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Posts Tagged ‘loss of language’

Her family was removed from her
Her country was removed from her
Because she didn’t matter.

She was exported to a foreign land
She was sold to a new family she didn’t look like at all
Because she didn’t matter.

Her birth date was removed from her
Her name was removed from her
Her manners were removed from her
Her words were removed from her
Her ways of thinking were removed from her
Because she didn’t matter.

She was given a new birth date that has nothing to do with her birth
She was given a new name that didn’t match her face
She was taught new manners as being the right manners
She was forcefully penetrated with new words to become her new mother tongue and new ways of thinking
Because she didn’t matter.

She was killed when I was created
She is not because I am
I am not me I’m her.
Don’t tell me I matter when she didn’t

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I lost my Mother tongue when I was a little girl.

Transported to a foreign land, I was colonized, emptied of every word you taught me and forcefully penetrated by foreign words.

I feel guilty for speaking their language as if it was my mother tongue.
I feel dirty speaking and thinking in the language that took the place of our Mother tongue.

My ‘mother tongue’, as defined by Statistics Canada, is the language I speak now, the language that was forced upon me.

I feel guilty and dirty for using their twisted definition of a mother tongue.

Our life together, I remember vividly.
The words you told me, I remember them as if you had told them in the language I speak now. The things I said or thought, I remember them as if I had said or thought them in my ‘mother tongue’.

I feel raped in my soul thinking of our life together in my ‘mother tongue’ that forcefully penetrated me leaving no space for our Mother tongue.

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When I remember my first year of school, I see the Hangul ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ … written on the blackboard, I hear the teacher saying, gieuk, nieun, dieut, rieul, mieum, bieup, …  pointing them  with a wooden stick which was also used  to discipline us, I hear the pupils repeating after her. I see myself being bored…

I was bored because I already knew the Hangul.

It seems that reading came naturally to me long before starting school.  I remember reading quietly the front page of a  newspaper which was left on the floor by my brother-in-law. I never told anyone and nobody ever noticed that I could read. I had no book to read. (Notice that only rich people or people living in rich countries can afford books. For the poor books are luxury goods, especially children’s books.)

When I entered first grade, I had only the school book as reading book. I remember the word 국어 was written on its cover.

My elder sister was rich. My nephew received a bag full  of books when he was only three or four years old.  They were  for babies with lot of images and not much text. It didn’ t take me long to read them. I liked to smell them.

I didn’t like nor dislike reading, but I would read anything that could be read. I  read my brother-in-law’s newpapers. The articles were beyond my comprehension.  I called them “newspapers for adults”, because the texts were scattered with Chinese characters.  I had heard that only intelligent people who have studied alot could read Chinese, so I admired my brother-in-law.  My mom was intelligent too; she had taught me to write my name in Chinese.

Unlike French reading which was forced upon me at the age of 10, I had learned reading Korean without effort  just like babies learn their first language without effort through natural steps.

Following the forced assimilation, my first language has became a foreign language and a foreign language  has became my first language.

I can still read Korean but  I don’t understand anything. I remember gieuk, nieun, dieut, rieul, mieumbieup  and a few other words and sentences. When I re-learn a word, I forget it soon after. I remember my  Korean life  as if I had lived it in a French language environment. My language  is a high barrier between my siblings and me. The Koreans assume that I’m a Chinese or Japanese.  The French-speaking Quebecers asked me where I came from or what is my nationality; some compliment me for speaking well their language; others speak to me aloud and slowly so that I can undertand them. Many speak to me English. Yet my spoken English is pitiful; I pronounce words with a French-Quebec accent and I’m told by English-speaking people that they don’t understand me.

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We Were Children is a documentary about the experiences of First Nations children in the Canadian Indian residential schools system.

http://aptn.ca/pages/wewerechildren/

For over 130 years till 1996, 150 000 Aboriginal children were removed from their families and sent to faraway schools which were part of a wider program of assimilation designed to integrate the native population into “Canadian society” and were established with the express purpose ‘To kill the Indian in the child.’  These children endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and the complete erasure of their culture.

The last of the 30 residential schools closed in 1996. In 2008, the Canadian government offered a publicy apology and the Indian Residencial Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established.

I was a child. I too was removed from family and my country, sent to a faraway country where I endured forced assimilation, abuse and complete erasure of language and culture.  They killed the Korean  in me. They say I should be grateful for being saved. They call it international adoption.

Korea has been selling its children to 15 countries for 60 years. Canada is one of the countries which buy them.

International adoption: import-export of priced-tagged children, forced removal from family and coutry, forced assimilation, abuse for many and complete erasure of language and culture.

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Below is a page from a book that I read several times after my “arrival day”.

A book Myung-Sook read from Déc 1975 to 1976/77

As I had only two books written in Korean, I read them about 100 times until I lost my mother tongue and became a Francophone Quebecer.

In a TV programme, a French-speaking Quebec artist, adoptive father of a Chinese girl, said that given the fall in the birth rate in Quebec, the Quebec governement should help couples who want to adopt in foreign countries, because “those children become Québécois pure laine”, he said, in a short time and it doesn’t cost a cent.

It’s easy to assimilate adoptive children from foreign countries. It’s true that you can make them believe they are white, you can make them believe your ancestors are theirs and you can make them believe they are Québécois pure laine. More you adopt them young, the easier it is to assimilate them.

Even I, adopted at 9 years old, have been remodeled in the image of my adoptive parents and I became a Francophone Quebecer like them
within short time. Starting with my birth culture, I was emptied of everything Korean to be filled with everything Quebecer within two years.

You can easily snatch a child from its mother, from its country and its culture; you can empty it like you would empty a vessel, and you can fill it with your culture, but you will never be able to fill the hole you created by emptying it; you can fill with your love, but you will never be able to clean cut the invisible thread that connects the child to its roots.

I’m a Francophone Quebecer, but I have a big hole in my heart since I lost my mother tongue and original culture. The greatest sorrow of my life is losing my culture and language. Sometime, I just want to die to stop the hurt.

People say don’t complain and study your culture. I actually remember the way I used to live in Korea, but I remember everything as if it happened in French; the Korean culture is not natural to me, it’s stranger to me.

Do you really think that studying Korean culture in a book/movie would bring me back my culture? If it was that simple, then everyone who studies Korean culture could become Korean, and I would feel no hurt. My original culture is taken from me forever.

Since I became adult, I tried few times to relearn my mother tongue in order to reacquire a part of what was stolen from me, but without success.

What did it give to me to try to relearn my mother tongue? Absolutely nothing, nothing than hurt.

I’m trying again since 2009. Maybe, I’m trying to fill the hole created by adoption, the hole made bigger and deeper by the assimiliation. Below is a page from a book that I’m using.

A book I'm studying since the end of 2009

The greatest irony of my life is that I’ve been assimilated by people who often discussed and still discusses identity and autonomy issues on national level. The Parti Québécois introduced the “Quebec identity bill” which proposes the predominance of the French language and the protection and promotion of Quebec culture. This is even more ironic for international adoptees who couldn’t defend to keep their mother tongue and culture and have lost their identity to become francophone Quebecers by force.

Mrs Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québécois, said that the francophones of Quebec have preserved their culture and language by perseverance. It might have been true in the past, but it’s no longer true today. Preserving your language and culture by passsing it by force to the children adopted abroad has nothing to do with perserverance. It is what I call the modern colonization: instead of invading and transforming a country abroad, you bring their children here to colonize their bodies.

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