Bilingual something and something in Boslish

Good day. Apologies for a confusing title.

It would have probably read: “Bilingual dilemma and a bra kadabra” if I only sat down to write this piece first… In absence of any imagination or further explanations, it really really does not make sense. It did when I thought of it. Let me explain.

I recently wrote and shared a couple of thoughts in my mother tongue (wow, no?) explaining how I was fascinated by a theory almost a century old. Established by Benjamin Lee Whorf, it said that the language in which we write or think largely influences our thought process, imagination and creativity. The most interesting example is of a Russian writer who wrote his autobiography in English and only started remembering minute details from his childhood when he was working on translating it into Russian. And many more. Thank you, The Economist, for one of many articles that pointed me there. The title read: “Bilingual dilemma and a hocus-pocus…”, by the way.

As a person living in an environment in which I work, love, eat and drink mostly in a language other than my own, I found it thought-provoking. And true in some instances. Like so many others all around the world, I am a different man when Skyping with my family or when proudly showing off while pointing a tourist in London in the right direction. Different when I shout at the Arsenal squad in the Emirates or at Bosnian Dragons in, most often, the qualifiers or, very rarely, a big competition. Or at a Mexican selección when playing against the “falling Dutchmen”.

Hence, I decided I would do an experiment of my own — I will write a weekly resume of the previous week in Bosnian, English or both. Ensuring that there is enough time between writing them I’ll try and stop them being a mere translation of one another and let myself go.

I am curious to see which topics will have come up more naturally, whether the way I write about them is different and the thought process and ideas that they spark.

I, for example, know for a fact that I am inclined to use more profanity, insults and good old sarcasm when using my own language. I tend to solve math (usually plain, simple math, like any other mortal) or logical problems more easily as well. However, in English I feel less boundaries and that new ideas flow more naturally even if I might struggle to articulate them in a timely manner. If I chase them around for too long, trying to splat them onto a blank piece of paper, they end up being translated into Boslish only.

“Boslish” is exactly an example of the badly articulated thought and an idea that was let to roam free for too long. “Boseng” would have sounded at least vaguely like someone who could do well in a long-distance run in Rio or someone whose brother would choose to play football for Ghana instead of Germany (see under: “Jerome and Kevin-Prince”). “Englibos” would have been roughly like an “angry boss” pronounced by a kid way too early employed (enter Modern Slavery). That’s about the limit of my imagination, so brace yourself for an unpleasant journey.

Back to the point.

This time next year I will look back to 52 weeks of random thoughts and try and make more sense of myself, the place I am in and the dimensions I add to it depending on whether I dreamed of Travnik fortress or London Bridge the night before.

I hope to have some of you here to “kick” me out from time to time. Never fully, ‘though. I am not leaving without a full-blown referendum.

Nermexit. It will be a thing.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Nermin Daul’s story.