8 Confessions Of Someone Who Doesn’t Speak Perfect Spanish
Poet Noel Quiñones tackled the complex questions and feelings of non-Spanish speaking Latinxs in his poem “8 Confessions of My Tongue”. He touches on everything from filling yourself with false hope until you’re discovered to the lingering feeling that you’ve let your parents down and the confusion when you realize that they won’t teach you.
1. False comfort as you try your best to speak a tongue you don’t quite grasp.Write About Now / YouTube
“You expected the waterfall, the spit that crossed the ocean; the syllable-suffocating dance and it is a dance,” Noel Quiñones says. “This moving, weaving, searching, turning your back on what you can never keep up with. I contain so much sad, brown mouth that I can’t even pronounce Quiñones without a stranger examining the air it took to learn it.”
2. The little lie we tell ourselves as we memorize Spanish songs without knowing the meaning.Write About Now / YouTube
“But I’m always the last one to yell ‘Wepa,'” Quiñones admits. “Forever late to my own identity.”
3. Experiencing the negativity from fellow Latinxs who do speak Spanish.Write About Now / YouTube
“They whisper of my fraud on the block and in the classroom,” Quiñones laments. “But all I have are these two false skins stitched into a name.”
4. That feeling when you rely on Google Translate to prove yourself.Write About Now / YouTube
Whether writing in Spanish for a poem or when texting a Spanish-speaking relative, there’s this moment of despair when you have to use translation software to make sure you got it right.
5. There’s always a despairing feeling when you fake your “mother tongue.”Write About Now / YouTube
“Where I touch the shore and it accepts me,” Quiñones says. “Where my grandmother wasn’t spit on every day for not knowing English.”
6. The feeling of desperately trying to teach yourself using words you hear from friends and family even though they never taught you.Write About Now / YouTube
“My skin, always mistaken for home,” Quiñones tells the crowd. “My name, an invitation to strangers who say, ‘Your parents should have taught you.’ But my parents say it’s my fault.”
7. Being told that you should be able to feel when you use ‘para’ instead of ‘por.’Write About Now / YouTube
Because, in English “for” is “for” is “for”.
8. The overall feeling that your lack of Spanish is a betrayal to your parents.Write About Now / YouTube
“A stutter beneath a foreign accent mark; a transcontinental thing stuck in it’s own ocean,” Quiñones explains. “And, so, I flood Quiñones onto my mother’s lap. ‘Qué vergüenza,’ she says. ‘Now you don’t belong… anywhere.'”
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