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I'm glad I wasn't born in China!

My father, he has a great sense of humour and a delivery to boot. He always says things so nonchalant that you never expect what's coming and so you fall into the trap more times than not. He would always joke when we were kids that he was glad he wasn't born in China, and I would always ask why (even though I'd heard the joke before). He would say. "Because son, I can't speak a word of Chinese."

Moving to a new country is always difficult and has its challenges. Language is one of them. Though many people usually move to a country where they can communicate with the population, to a large degree, it's a little different in our case.

For the first decade of my life, Portuguese was my first language. We spoke Portuguese at home, and I even did a few years of Portuguese school after regular English school in South Africa, where I was born. Eventually English became my first language and Portuguese became less useful to me in an English context. Other than for making jokes that only other Portuguese kids understood. On top of that, I also had to learn Afrikaans. It was difficult. Learning tenses in 3 languages and conjugations that changed for every reason.

Now I find myself moving to the land of my ancestors, and I'm not very familiar with the language I first spoke when I entered this world. It's going to be daunting seeing as I'm also going to be the family translator. I'm sure I'll be asked to share some useful Portuguese phrases with my family to help them get by if I'm not around, and thus pass on my terrible grammar and language errors.

Thankfully, English is widely spoken in most places in Portugal today and so I know that we'll be okay. However, because Portuguese people are keen to learn and be helpful, if they can speak English, they will speak with you in English, instead of Portuguese. That's not always useful if you're trying to learn the other's language. I guess there's no rush: my mom only started speaking English way into my teens and gets by just fine today, despite it being amusing and cute.

There will be a time of transition for sure, learning new words and the proper way to say them without sounding like a complete ignoramus. It's a good thing I wasn't born in China...

PS: My dog doesn't understand any Portuguese either, or Chinese for that matter. :)


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