Thursday, September 1, 2011


It’s one thing to be half-something, but it’s quite another for them to be dissimilar halves.

In my case it’s Scottish (my dad was born in Glasgow, Scotland ) & Polish (my mother was born in the Salem MA Polish-speaking community.) He was allegedly monolingual; she was perfectly bi-lingual

Anyone familiar with Scotland knows that most Scots speak a dialect of English, but also 'The Scots' with its distinctly Scottish vocabulary.

When I was living in Fife, Scotland, the father of my poet-friend Tom Hubbard suddenly turned to me and said “D’ye ken the braid Scots?” (Do you understand the broad Scottish dialect?) I carefully answered in Boston-American: “I ought to, my dad was born in Glasgow.” Thereafter, he comfortably spoke broad-Scots when I was around.

All my life I’ve switched (mentally & vocally) between multiple linguistic frequencies: Belarusian Polish, Glasgow Scottish, New England American & std. American English. In prep-school & undergraduate college I also learned Latin, French, & Russian. All of them have filtered what I say or hear.

I feel it makes me not quite what I appear to be. Indian- & Asian-Americans must feel this even more acutely.

But who ever bothers to ask them? How to begin? Q: “What’s it like to live with embedded linguistic filters?”

Would they be startled to know that anybody else knows?

(01 SEP 11, Santa Clara CA)v2

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