Am "I" わたし? Or おれ? Or who am "I"?

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Apr 24, 2011 07:55
I've never asked them, but I suppose that, when French people speak English, they may think they are still themselves. In other words, French-speaking Michel remains to be the same Michel even when he speaks English. He switches languages, and probably he finds a little bit of difficulty in expressing himself in English, but still he can be himself across the languages.

But I think that, when Japanese people speak English, they can't necessarily be themselves. At least, "I" cannot really be myself.

When I speak English, because English sounds are so different from Japanese sounds, I've got to change my way of breathing and speech-accompanied movement of body. I use more body language than I do when speaking in Japanese, since the calm, Japanese style of speaking might look absurd.

And, on top of that, I've got to use personal pronoun "I" to refer to me.

You know, in Japanese, we use a number of different personal pronouns to refer to ourselves. Technically speaking, they are not personal pronouns but just nouns used to say "I", for example わたし, わたくし、おれ, ぼく、あたし、おいら、and so on. We choose most suitable one considering the social context in which we are. For instance, when I speak to my boss, I can't say おれ, and I have to use わたし. But even in the same company, when I speak with my younger colleague, I may use おれ or ぼく.

When I am わたし, I am slightly different from what I am when I use おれ. Sometimes, I kind of feel that I have two different personalities. This is because I have to use whole different sets of language according to whether I am わたし or おれ. When I use わたし, I need to use more formal and polite words and phrases, whereas, when I use おれ, I have to use a more casual set of language. This situation probably never happens to Europeans (I don't know...).

Thus, using "I" is like adding a new character into me; the new character with exaggerated body language, strengthened face expressions and the louder voice, who can speak English fluently. And he is neither わたし nor おれ. Then who am "I"?