People often say when returning to their native shores from having attempted to emigrate is that the reason they feel they have had to come back to their home country was their failure to understand the language. They didn’t feel at home. They failed to integrate with the community. They didn’t ‘belong’.
Now apparently, for those who live in the USA, English is their language. However, there are many documented observations that will prove this not to be the case. It might be a ‘form’ of spoken English, but in reality the Americans have adapted it to suit their own ends. The language that they took with them when colonising that great landmass is not what it now is.
Having recently moved to a foreign climes myself, I can give first hand witness to how a language can be adopted and then changed to suit your own purpose. In France for instance, which is where I now reside, they use le, la, les, whereas in England they simply use ‘the’. No masculine, no feminine, no pluralisation required, just one simple three letter word, ‘the’.
As mentioned previously, French was England’s tongue for near-on 300 years and as such, England adopted many words from the French language and simply put a typically British slant on them and quite possibly vice versa.
Now living in France and having purchased with Charlotte a small property using school boy O level French, I now find myself having to stretch the limits of my abilities to converse with everyone I meet, as none of them know, or let on that they know, English.
This is fine by me. The whole point of living in a country where the native language is not readily tripping of the tongue is all part of the joie de vie (French phrase) and I also didn’t move here to necessarily be close to anyone who is from my native shores of England.
Yes I know I was born there. Yes I know I’ve spent the majority of my life there, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that historically my family were Huguenot refugees.
Refugees like the Israelites of old who had to escape oppression, my family left their native land and headed orf to Angleterre in the hopes of surviving there. What they as a people went through, moving through France to England, is well documented elsewhere and although they probably didn’t spend years wandering blindly in a desert land, I still think of leaders, heading north, with a band of followers, hoping for respite and sanctuary and freedom from persecution.
Hemmed in on all sides by those who would do them harm for simple faith.
Quite possibly my family were part of a group of Huguenot weavers who settled in Spitalfields, London. (I’ve always wanted to get the word Spitalfields into my scribblings somewhere. It conjures up images of fields where people are standing around gobbing at one another…nice!).
So, with the ‘French Connection’ somewhere in the distant past (along with Irish and German Jew) this mongrel feels like he has genuinely returned to his historical native land.
Richelieu in particular. There’s something about the layout of this city that warms my heart. Viewed from above it has the uniformity and conformity that renders you totally aware of your surroundings and unlikely ever to have to use the excuse of late arrival on being ‘lost’. How could anyone be lost in this city?
So simply driving into the main square in 2015 I knew that I had come home. If ever there is such a thing a déjà vu (another French saying), the feeling of having been or done something before, this was what entering Richelieu was for me.
I have often verbally discussed how we are the product of our ancestors. How we have traits or similarities to our parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents, but go beyond that generation and most of us are at a loss as to what they did and who they were, save what our grandparents might have told us or shown us in sepia photographs. Yet the fact remains that for us to be alive today, there was a whole host of others who have had to have lived before and, as such, they have handed down their genetic makeup which has resulted in our manifestation here today.
We might have facial similarity, posture, height, width, girth…,colouring, in fact many different visual recognisable traits. Scratch underneath the surface however and there can be similarity there too. A gifted musician often has it said that the ability has been passed down from the parents. Acting parents often spawn future generations of actors. The ability to learn lines and reproduce on request is a skill that is often an innate ability and not so easily ‘learnt’.
So if we go a little deeper into the psyche of the human form, who is to say that as the brain has similarity to its forebears and can reproduce skills seen in previous generations, why not other brain aspects such as knowing from where one originates? Why do I feel at home in France more than anywhere else I’ve ever travelled? Why does my smile broaden as the wheels touch the tarmac leaving the Sangatte train station? Why does speaking in a foreign language not bother me in the slightest even though I’m totally rubbish at it?
I am not a scientific boffin, but if we as humans have had all this visible genetic material passed down to us, why not memories of past lives too? I’m not saying I think I was Marie Antoinette or anything like that, but more the fact that somehow I just know I have returned, re-emigrated, travelled full circle, back to where I belong.
Carry on regardless!