The language of my great grand parents is Japanese. My mother can speak a little whereas my father none. I am conversant but illiterate. I'm fourth generation Nipo American from Los Angeles.

I wonder how many generations after immigration that the mother tongue changes to the country where you were born? In the States I think it's easier for some groups than others.

When I was growing up in Torrance, California, I was made fun of in elementary school for not speaking Japanese and being Asian. I felt societal pressure to learn Japanese after hearing remarks after graduating from university and living in California's Central Valley: "Go back to where I came from" or "What does your name mean in Japanese" or "What are they saying, you know Japanese, right?" or "Your English is really good, when did you start learning?" I figured I should know. I learned Japanese a member of the California National Guard, went to school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey; to attend the oldest school on the post: the Japanese language course.

But, as far as I'm concerned, my mother tongue is English; I just look like this.

I'm an American,
Amerikajin desu,
sou Americano.

But now, many years later... with Japanese, Portuguese and English in my head; I still wonder why folks shout things like "Hey Chink, open your eyes!". I wonder about the accident of my first language, like my physical features, my last name, the city where I was born, my parents/ grandparents/ great grandparents; if I were able to choose... would I have chosen English/ the United States/ California/ Los Angeles?

I didn't buy the sheets, but I make the bed and sleep in it.

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BY ttanaka
theme language
language English, portuguese
country USA

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