Some of you may have noticed I wrote in article in L’Orient Le Jour last week. The article was pretty successful, it received about 100 “likes” on the newspapers page, about 50 on my own Facebook profile. And needless to say, the article was in French.
In the article I talk about the act of moving back to Lebanon, and what that’s meant for me over the past year. I also go into how it has allowed me to finally find a place for myself after decades abroad. And overall, according to a lot of my friends, I’m far less cynical in French. And most people didn’t mean that in a good way.
And that got me thinking about why I wrote it in French. Well, for starters, I was educated in French until I was 18, and haven’t written a word since, so I guess on some level I wanted to prove to myself that I could still make an intelligible argument in the language. On another level I was writing it for someone very specific, and I wanted her to read it in French. And also, I think my conclusion was rather soppy and cheesy. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t sincere, quite the contrary, it’s just not something I feel I can express in English and still take myself seriously.
Language is an odd thing. Being Lebanese, I often think in three separate languages, all three of which I’ve been immersed in since infancy. I think differently in each language and according to what I’m feeling. There are beautiful things I want to say to people sometimes, which I can only say in French. There are vituperative, cynical, acerbic things I want to say which trip off my tongue in English. Arabic surfaces predominately during altercations in traffic, and usually involves unspeakable acts being committed by people’s mothers.
Rest assured, I’m sticking to English for this blog.