Second-language writing and emotions18 February 2009 at 3:25 AM | Posted in News | 3 Comments
In “In conversation: Cebuano writers on Philippine literature and English” in the recently published Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary Perspectives, edited by Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista and Kingsley Bolton (Hong Kong University Press, 2008), Resil B. Mojares says, “Something else can be said about English – it’s a way of distancing yourself from your emotions. Like if I wrote my poems in Cebuano [his mother tongue], I would worry about mawkishness, sentimentality, without the emotional control of the English language. English offered detachment. A foreign language renders things more neutral.”
Is this true? Does writing in a second language distance writers from their emotions? (A linguistic take on William Wordsworth’s [more likely Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s] “emotion recollected in tranquillity“!) Or does writing in a second language falsify those emotions?