This is not for me. I mean the book, “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue”. It’s obviously for those native speakers. The magnificence described by the book must be felt by a lot of people, but as a non-native speaker I feel differently. If I feel the magnificence, it’s a different kind of magnificence.
Mencken and Orwell also wrote about English language in books and essays. The same kind of “this is not for me” appeared to me when I read them. I guess in a way I should feel happy about this since I am quite in the category of “know yourself”. I know what is for me and what is not. That’s knowledge, though sometimes I wonder if I am too arbitrary in my judgement. One thing I’ve learned from living with the ubiquitous presence of English is that I’m never so sure of myself no matter how much I understand the line. There are always the possibilities that a hint here, an allusion there, or a meaning between the lines that I have missed. My suffering from the consequence, most likely in the form of embarrassment, is never far away and sometimes just a minute or two away.
After struggling and laboring under the English language for decades, I cannot enumerate all of what I want to say about the language. However I can make modest attempts to list one or two. The first one is its almost limitless words. If you google, you can find forty different words for different shades of red color– a daunting task probably for native speakers and an impossible one for immigrants.
Also as a non-native speaker, I learn it first hand that there seem to be infinite ways to write a grammatically correct sentences, but to the ears of the native speakers, there are very limited ways those can sound right. This is annoying, but still bearable. What’s even more difficult for a non-native speaker is that whenever I try very hard to get something right, the sentences feel forced and affected. However labor always involves certain degree of discipline and enforcement, is it right? So this is the thing–you can’t force yourself, and you can’t not force yourself. What are you going to do?