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Reading in your Second Language

Leonicka Valcius: Reading in your Second Language

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reading in your Second Language

I love languages and am lucky to be able to communicate in four: English, French, Spanish and Haitian Creole. But one thing stood out to me as I reviewed my reading stats for the year. I only read in English.

I decided to learn new languages in order to communicate with more people and to learn more about them. Foreign languages, I have found, make foreign experiences familiar. Speaking many languages allows me to have a wider range of expression—sometimes there are no English words for the things I feel. 

Yet I only read in English! This is all the more baffling when I think of all the books I read in translation. I adore the work of Lorca. One of my favorite books is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  I was profoundly touched by The Return by Dany Laferrière and my father has introduced me to many Haitian writers. But I’ve only read them in English.

I wonder how much I’m missing because of this. How much of the poetry in their prose was lost in translation? I think I need to add another reading challenge to this year.

Do you read fiction in your second language? Why or why not? Do you have book suggestion for me? Leave them in the comments!

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