Blogging on me being Hmong

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Since I usually just post articles with links on here and not usually post my thoughts, I thought I would do that today. I've done it once before. However, since then I haven't.

What inspired me to post my thoughts today is the Hmong language. A lot of Hmong words have taken bits and pieces from other languages -- Lao, Thai, Mandarin Chinese.

But when people ask me if I could speak Lao, Thai, or Mandarin Chinese, I'm not going to claim yes. To me, knowing a few words does not make you fluent.

If that was the case then shoot, I would know Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Arabic, Korean, etc. Just because I watch the movies does not mean I become fluent by knowing how to say "hi," "I love you," etc.

Even me taking Spanish classes in high school does not make me fluent in the language either. I definitely can pick up a lot of words but no way could I go translate. I really wish I could. Higher paying jobs out there for that.

Others have told me that the Hmong language sounds Chinese-like and soft-spoken. Hmong is a tone language. What that means is if you say one word and use a slightly higher pitch, you may pronounce a different word instead.

Growing up in America since the mid 1970s, I lost a lot of my Hmong-ness. One big factor is I grew up in Atlanta. Now, there are more Hmong people living here. But during that time when I was growing up, I was lost in speaking Hmong and/or English.

Now, since I'm in the early 30s, I wish my parents spoke more Hmong to me. And for them to even teach me Lao, Thai, and French -- they both know how to speak the languages.

Funny as I say that, my kids do not know much Hmong either. My husband, who is non-Hmong -- he is Khmer, does not speak his language much either. So we're both stuck with speaking English to our kids. Plus the way my kids respond to learning Hmong reminds me of myself when I was younger.

Because I am older and hopefully much more mature now, I want to embrace my Hmong side. It's never too late.

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