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Thoughts on Bilingualism from Maui

April 7, 2012

On Bilingualism and Mandarin in Minnetonka, Minnesota

April 6, 2012 – Ray Tsuchiyama

I had no choice in being exposed to bilingualism, since my parents spoke both Japanese and English.

Although I don’t remember, my first language was most likely Japanese, as my late mother spoke to me more during my baby-infant period (hence, the term “mother tongue”). Later in life, I chose to be bilingual, as I enjoyed speaking Japanese and English (I know of many individuals who cannot speak the language of their mother and/or father, due to many reasons, and it is a challenge to retain a foreign language while one’s childhood friends only speak English – yet so many people have confessed to me that their greatest regret was that they were unable to carry on a conversation in Japanese or Ilocano or Cantonese or German – with their family, their loved ones).

During my childhood I would often tell a joke first in English, then re-tell the joke in Japanese or vice-versa. Often I would not have a word or phrase, and my father would come up with equivalent (in either language) – and so my sensitivity to language and communications grew. Bilingualism also gave me insights to speaking to people who spoke English as a second or third language.

Please read more here.

Here’s the first part of his essay here.

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