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Writing in English as a Second Language

Val is a life-long student of unexplored human potential and many challenges that self-honesty throws at us on that path.


Hey, I Ain't a Writer Just Because I Write

I may have to guide you slowly towards the main theme of this post, by first saying a few about my writing at this Hub Pages website. It may resemble almost brutal honesty when I say that I am writing each piece between two installments of an unannounced "good-bye".

Namely, my other hobbies and daily routines are using just enough of my time to put in a shadow this one; and even though I may get back to writing for reasons that are not really clear to me, a part of them might be this curiosity what my literary creations would look like once when finished. More so because they are to be done in language that is second to me, after my native Croatian.

When I was younger, I used to do a lot of oil painting, even got a little diploma from Art Instruction Schools in Minnesota, a two year home study course in commercial art.

But none of that was defining me as an artist-painter -- just like none of these scribblings here are defining me as a writer. I am not a writer just because I do some writing, and I am not a poet because I am writing my own version and form of poetry.

Maybe I suck a big time with what I write, while I may never know it, because it's like I can always count on a friendly review here -- not necessarily honest in many cases, but friendly. It's O.K. to feel spoiled a little, and maybe that's one of the main reasons for all other participants to write here. I am saying maybe, I don't know.

As a matter of fact everyone is so sweet to each other that we might as well become pen pals and talk about what's for dinner today.

At times it seems like just about anything goes on this website, while I can even see some pieces written by born Americans who couldn't care less if they do some misspelling.

That actually makes me feel safe, because then I can afford to do my own mistakes and no one will fuss.

You know which mistakes Americans are most likely to make. Like "to" instead of "too", "there" instead of "their", "your" instead of "you're", "its" instead of "it's"...etc.

Funny, isn't it, how humanly typical it is that we notice others' mistakes so quickly, but not our own.

Maybe that somehow builds confidence. While at confidence, some time ago I got a new follower who wrote in his Bio Profile: "I am a very interesting person..", and somewhere toward the end: " Read my stuff and educate yourself".

Gee, I wish I had that kind of confidence.


If You Didn't Know It -- Some Bragging Feels Good

Now, now, not that I am totally incapable of bragging, and in many of my pieces I do it, so let me do my quota of bragging for today.

I do have a certain knack for languages. I can still remember my Croatian grammar which is terribly complicated like in some other European languages, and certainly much harder than English. Back there we had a choice between English, German, French and Russian -- and trust me, most of us picked English.

And I still remember a hell of a lot of my four year worth of Latin in high school. Every now and then you will have noticed my use of Latin proverbs. Beside an obvious show off effect, Latin sounds a sort of "academish" -- and with my niche of psycho-philosophy of living, its use is just right.

Here, ain't I also making myself a "very interesting person" like that new follower of mine?

When I first started writing here some six years ago (I recently took a break closing my account on a whim typical for my gypsy type personality) I was like a little kid with his new toy. Curious what my creations would look like when done in English, with all these tools to make them look professional.

None of my stuff has ever been rejected, as far as I can remember, and since we got these new sites, I never had to submit anything, every piece was taken in matter of few days. Boy, am I good or not! Just kidding, you would laugh with me in a chorus if you could see how my traffic is dragging.

That's the last thing that would bother me. Hey, when I quit a couple of months ago, I lost thousands of views, lost all my accolades, even left the money. What more could convince you that my only reason for writing is seeing my stuff written in English -- since that's a challenge.

Did I say that I also enjoy the virtual company of all you fine people? I didn't? O.K., I am saying it now.


It's About Spirit of a Language, Amigo

My Croatian accent is not heavy but it's there, even after over half century since I've been using it here in Canada. Maybe because here nobody cares about accents, since we are officially a multicultural country.

But it felt altogether different during my relatively short (legal) immigration in the US., where my job interviewer rushed to ask me: "What's that accent?" Later on I heard about America being a sort of a "melting pot" -- but it didn't affect me in any way.

It reminds me of the time when I wanted to surprise my almost life-long pen pal Susana, a professional psychoanalyst in Buenos Aires, with a little birthday letter written in her Argentine version of Spanish. Now, don't get a wrong impression -- I didn't know ANY version of Spanish, and with a basic knowledge of syntax of any language I used the Google dictionary.

So there I went writing my own style of the lengua espanola, naively expecting that my amiga Susana would praise my effort. Well, being a psychoanalyst she did spare my feelings, but she also did remind me how each language has its spirit, and even a small slip can make your sentence look out of whack.

But she did like the way I ended my letter with: "Con abrazos y besos, tu gringo amigo. (with hugs and kisses, your gringo amigo). Well, she could be a shrink and even a linguist -- but she was in the first place a woman.

As I am writing my articles, many a time I am reminded of her tactful words -- so I am aware that many times I must be saying things that are not in spirit of English language.

As you might have noticed, sometimes when I can't find a noun that would strongly enough depict a concept, I resort to the word "crap". Why else people swear but to sound more convincing -- albeit I do it for a lack of a word that would say what I want to express with a dash of emotion in it.


Who Am I Really Writing For?

Now, never mind "how" I am writing, but "who" am I writing for?

Seriously folks, here I am writing about de-hypnotizing from social suggestive assaults, while seemingly totally oblivious to the fact that the most of the Hub Pages readership is in the US. And Americans, by national mentality, hardly have any individual consciousness, it's predominantly collective one.

I don't mean it any mocking way. After all, who am I to judge what others prefer to build their interests upon. It's even a kind of plausible that people are showing so much love for their country. (Crap on a cracker! -- I am not being entirely honest here, because I would like it better if they were all about individualism and personal liberation, so that would get me more traffic).

As it appears, my American neighbors below the Niagara Falls appear to be exclusively interested in their own country; their kids don't learn at school about world's geography, other countries' political and economic arrangements, that stuff -- like we had to in Europe. .

So, Mark Twain was right when he said:

"God created wars so that Americans can learn some geography".

Indeed, it's like they are rather identified as Americans than as a Joe and Jane; also sounding like they know more what should be fixed in the White House, than what should be fixed in their own backyard.

So here I am philosophizing about stuff like personal sovereignty, about liberation from brainwashing done by manipulators of all varieties.

Am I crazy?! -- they thrive on being brainwashed, it's their soul's daily food to hear what this or that political prophet has said. Well, once a European, always a European, so no wonder that my crap (here I said it again) doesn't appeal much to those readers' mentality and intellectual tastes.

A few times I wrote something political, just to see if that would be taken better, but no chance, I am not saying things they like to hear, I am simply not one of them.

So, well, it's me, and with my limited version of English I might as well stick know own crap.

© 2021 Val Karas

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