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Ursela R Wetjen

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Member Since: Sep, 2004

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Another Language
By Ursela R Wetjen
Monday, October 04, 2004

Rated "G" by the Author.

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English! Oh no!

Another Language

They were talking and somehow I knew that they were speaking English. I held on to the railing and slowly moved towards them – trying to act casual but steadily moving closer so that I could hear their words more clearly. I pretended to be interested in the heaving grey water as I sidled sideways but we had seen nothing but unfriendly water for days and the interest had palled a long time ago.

And then I could hear the words. Words, words and more words. I didn’t understand anything. The woman looked at me and said something. A slight panic suddenly overwhelmed me. She seemed to be talking to me but, of course, I had no clue as to what she was saying. The man turned and smiled and said some words.

I just felt completely frightened and absolutely overwhelmed. It reminded me of Holland. We had gone there because my Dutch grandmother had died. People I didn’t know had smiled at me and talked at me and hugged me and had tears in their eyes when they saw me. But I didn’t understand anything – not their words and not their reactions. They all seemed to know me and were obviously happy to see me but I didn’t know why. It was all so confusing and completely uncomfortable.

Just like now.

And I suddenly knew. I knew that there was no way I was ever going to be able to learn to speak like the young couple standing to my left. The woman looked at me again and gave me a slight smile while strange words kept pouring out of her

I was hoping for just one word that sounded familiar. But it was all gibberish.

My mother had told me excitedly that we would all be speaking English once we got to our new home but I knew now that it would not be exciting at all. It would all just be another situation where people would be speaking and I wouldn’t be able to understand anything they said.

I suddenly felt very tired.

I smiled at the young couple and made my way back, clutching the railing, to where I had been standing previously. The return trip took seconds.

I looked at the water just for something to do – and there was nothing else to see. I certainly didn’t want to look at the only other people on deck. I was no longer interested in them. They might throw words at me again.

I held on to the railing even more tightly and concentrated on the water just so that I could feel nothing and think of nothing and worry about nothing.

English – I knew that I would never learn to speak it.


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Reviewed by Regina Pounds 6/14/2006
That feeling of isolation among people - it happens even when one understands the spoken words. Well expressed sense of not belonging.

And yes: but you did it!

Reviewed by L. Figgins 3/6/2005
I feel for anyone trying to learn this language that is not the most straightforward in the world. Too many meanings, too many nuances. But you did it!
Reviewed by Robert Fullerton 10/15/2004
Perseverance...I like it...jr62

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