"A first language not my own"

I feel this way sometimes — Spanish, a language that I acquired only after adulthood, has become a "second first language" in my everyday life, including most of my reading and almost all my daily conversation. Though I still use the English I grew up with (Midwestern US, middle-class variety) for many purposes, including this blog and most (but not all) of my fiction.

This kind of polyglot experience gives people like me (and there are millions of us in all parts of the world) a certain distance from each of the languages we use, making even the least literate of us sensitive to the peculiar resources of each. I remember the especially creative and surprising English expressions of an illiterate Cairene in New York who was also fluent in her own creative version of French. Marvelous.

Unfortunately I'm not attached to an institution that subscribes to this journal, so I don't have access to more than the abstract. I guess it's time to read Derrida.

The Languages of Charles Reznikoff