a wandering woman writes

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Isabel Allende, on living in two languages

Language is essential to a writer. and language is as personal as blood.

I live in California, in English, but I can only write in Spanish. In fact all the fundamental things in my life happen in Spanish, like scolding my grandchildren, cooking or making love.
-Isabel Allende

I often seem to want to punish myself for all the time I spend in English in Spain, working for British or American clients, keeping up with my people in the States, writing this blog......
I liked this look at a mirror image. Hmmmm, maybe I can get my two linguistic selves to coexist peacefully, just by accepting both of them as part of me.



  • I had a book of interviews with Isabel in my hand in Brussels last week ... I wanted it for me but couldn't do it but now, here you are, reminding me what a treasure she is.

    Having that duality in your life seems like a treasure as it is ...

    By Blogger womanwandering, at 8:36 PM  

  • Because my job required that I speak English, I made a concerted effort during the first couple of years in Spain to avoid ex-pat groups (although eventually, of course, I did make a lot of friends with ex-pats.) I found myself thinking in Spanish most of the time, and after a while actually dreaming in Spanish.

    Nowadays my job is teaching Spanish on the other side of the pond, but I don't even think about which language I'm using anymore. If you're reading novels in Spanish and translating, it sounds like you are pretty immersed in the language. Especially if you can translate literature! I'd say your two linguistic levels are very much a part of you.

    By Anonymous Ortizzle, at 11:17 PM  

  • Hey ww and Ortizzle!
    Ortizzle, I am immersed in Spanish, I live in Spanish...but now I work so much in English, alone, in my house and I have people I won't give up being in crazy close contact with..who don't live in Spain and don't speak Spanish. I don't have expat friends in Salamanca, just one expat friend in Madrid and we both prefer Spanish. And yes I always dream in Spanish when the dream is about Spain, or people I know here, my life here...I think because when I first arrived I decided I'd only read Spanish, only think in Spanish, back when I worked in a Spanish company, I somehow demonized English and I see that changing now. The English Erin gets to stay, too, I've decided... I love your thought of not even noticing which language you're in.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 2:20 PM  

  • I dropped by from Cream's blog.... am intrigued with the things that you write:-)

    By Blogger la bellina mammina, at 5:26 PM  

  • Welcome, la bellina!!
    And thank you. I'll take intrigued as a good thing. ;) I like to be intrigued.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 9:46 PM  

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