• Carla Ra

Why do I, a Brazilian, write in English?

Brazil's official language is Portuguese. And most of us only know one sentence in English, “the book is on the table.” Don’t ask me why.

Yet, I decided to write my stories in English.

A bit of backstory. I started learning English when I was 12. When I was 14, my parents could no longer afford the language course, but my teacher allowed me to continue for free (minus a few benefits, like, for example, a level certificate). I will be forever in debt to her because of this opportunity. I resumed the course when I was 17, to start my undergrad studies (in Mathanother language).

Now, to the topic (I told you it would be a bit of backstory).

Without further ado, I will give you five reasons why I write in English, four challenges I have to face, and one hope of mine, on a total of ten items—cause I’m a sucker for lists of ten.

Why do I write in English?

1. Cause I have to. It is literally my job.

I am a researcher, which means I am immersed in this world called Academia. And its main language is English. Although this is understandableotherwise the scientific community would spiral into a Babel Tower scenariothe high academic standards for the written English can be a pain. And it may lead to the exclusion of good research, and different points-of-views from people not as good with language as they are with, for example, Biology. But that is a topic for another day.

In any case, I work at a German Institution, and I do not speak Germannur ein bisschenso I have to communicate in English. I also have to publish papers in English. And I am writing a research book in this language.

Which leads me to reason #2.

2. I want to improve my English.

As I said, this language is an essential part of my life. So it is only natural that I want to improve my English skills. I must admit I am not great at it. I make lots of silly mistakes, especially when speaking. So I would like to keep learning and practicing. And writing is a great way to do it.

3. I read in English.

Reading is another great way to improve on the language. I would say that today 85% of what I read is in English. Both for work and for leisure.

When you spend so much time immersed in another language, your thoughts also become bilingual. I think in English, and consequently the majority of the stories I imagine is also in this idiom.

Fun fact: my thoughts are in broken English too. I can’t get it right not even in my mind.

4. The market is better.

It is with the utmost sadness that I say this, but Brazilians do not read much.

Although I do plan on releasing Portuguese translations of my books, I must admit that I am a bit greedy and say I want to reach a larger audience.

5. I like the challenge.

That’s it. It is hard, it can be frustrating, but these points make the victory sweeter in the end. And I will succeed.

If you would like to see me struggling and follow my progress, consider subscribing to my mailing list. I send monthly letters telling a bit more about my writing routine, work and goals in life.


Four challenges:

6. Insecurities

I try to convince myself it is a silly feeling, but I get super embarrassed when I make an English mistake. I try to own my mistakes and learn from them, but my whole interior burns whenever it happens. I just want to hide.

The worst part is: it happens often.

7. Grammar

Argh, my great nemesis!

I write in Portuglish Grammar. I can no longer tell which rule is from Portuguese Grammar, and which one is from English, so I improvise. And I fail in both.

8. Portuguese quality

And grammar is not the only problem here. I constantly forget words, and even whole sentences in Portuguese. Sometimes I want to convey a feeling in my native language, and I cannot do it. I do not remember how to say it in Portuguese.

I miss my vocabulary. Saudades.

9. I am antisocial

In Portuguese, I am an introvert. In English, the combination of this trait with my insecurities about the language equates to antisocial behavior.

One hope:

10. To be more unapologetic about it.

My English is far from perfect. I am very conscious about it, and ashamed. One thing I aspire to do is to embrace my broken English. And by this I mean I still want to keep learning and improving, but be less afraid of making mistakes.

Is that much to ask? Should I be perpetually embarrassed by my poor English skills?

That is it for today, folks.

What about you? Do you speak a second language? How do you feel about it?

See you next post,


Images from Pixabay.

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