There, Their, and Déjà Vu

By Amina Mamaty | 10/14/12 5:19pm


A few days ago, I was walking with my friend Alexandria in Meijer. I was jokingly complaining about the fact that I couldn’t find all the products I needed.

I said “I’m going to sue Meijer!” Alex responded “How you gon’ sue Meijer Amina, you don’t even speak English.”

Of course, she was joking; but even if she wasn’t, I would be okay with that. You want to know why? Because, usually the same people making jokes are the same people asking me, a foreigner, advice on spelling. I have come to the conclusion that my accent will forever be there, and it is a signature. At the end of the day, it’s what makes me, me.

When I’m tired and exhausted, it’s heavier than ever. When I’m angry or sad, my accent sounds better than usual.

Everywhere I go, there is always someone there to ask me if I can speak “in an American accent.” Clearly that’s impossible. It’s just like asking Americans to stop putting ranch dressing on everything – not going to happen. I think English is a pretty easy language to learn, or maybe I am just saying that because where I am from, we’re forced to start learning English in the 5th grade.

As confused as I was at first, I will forever be thankful for my professors. They taught us all the basics and even though when I first got here I thought that everything I learned was useless, I am reminded everyday that it isn’t.

There a lot of young adults, whose native language is English, who still do not know the difference between “There,” “their” and “they’re.” Some of them are not even able to hold a two-minute conversation in a different language.

I had a great education. One thing that I would say I dislike is when I have to pronounce French words the American way. Words like “armoire”, “déjà vu”, “amateur”, “Detroit”” etc. The list is huge. Sometimes, just to see if they follow, I trick my friends by pronouncing those words the French way. Eight times out of 10, they don’t get it, so I compromise.

One of the best feeling in the world, is when I use a really fancy new English word without thinking too hard about it. I get all happy inside. I swear, and no one else needs to know, it’s my personal little victory. I have a lot of negative things to say about America and its people. It may seems like I am always complaining and you could ask me “then why are you here if you’re always talking crap?” I would tell you that the thing is that I will always have way more positive things to express. This is why I said “bonjour” to the United States. I am here … to stay, indeed.

amamaty@lanthorn.com

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