24 November 2010

Losing My Language

I think I'm having some kind of a little identity crisis just now. This was brought on in part by some memes going around on Facebook (dangerous things, those memes), discussing people's favourite words from their home dialects, and perhaps in part also by English TV programmes I've been watching lately.

The question is: what is my language, my accent? Do I even have a real home dialect?

The thing is, I come from a bilingual family, living in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, which is neither parent's home town. I suppose the speech of the capital region has most shaped my own speech. However, even though I've lived here all my life (and probably will live the rest of it too), I haven't exactly got proper roots here.

The situation is only complicated by the fact I fairly actively use not one but two languages, and have roots in two countries. Not only two countries, but regions in those countries with fairly distinctive accents/dialects, namely Yorkshire and Savonia.

I'd really love to say I spoke either of those dialects, but that's hardly the case. I can handle a bit of Savonia, having spent many summers and Christmases there since I was a kid, but I'm hardly confident in it. Yorkshire I've never even visited, and I've spent very little time in England altogether. My English is probably a mix of influence from home, school and television/music from all over the world, with that awful flat Finnish intonation always pushing through. Of course my parents have also lived away from their homes for quite some time as well, so dialect influence through them is limited at best.

I'm not sure I'm even able to express this conundrum properly in words here. Thinking about it is giving me a headache. But in a nutshell, I'm a jumble of at least three distinct language and culture heritages (Helsinki, Savonia and Yorkshire), but unable to properly connect or identify with any of them. Who am I?

(Insert deep sigh.)

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