A mother's response
Spare us with the Finglish
By Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani
July 24, 2003
This is in response to my daughter
's article, "Language
It has been tough raising three
bright Iranian-Americans. Oh, bright they are, and I'm not saying
to be a bragging mom. They've
been on to me ever since they could talk. Forgetting I was the
one who put the first words in their mouths, they laughed at
my accent, my misuse of words and my point of view -- when
they were old enough to know what it was.
Our Persian jokes weren't
funny -- or politically correct -- to them and the poems and proverbs
that were meant as a lesson, lost their dignity in my poor attempt
While my friends, who had more time with their
children at home, succeeded to teach them Persian, I, as a writer,
full time dentist/dreamer,
aspired to enlighten mine with the knowledge of Persian literature.
Alas, their nannies, friends and the media had planned otherwise.
many unsuccessful attempts (Saturday classes, un-openned books
and losing Persian alphabet games), I knew it was time
to throw in the towel when they got down on their knees and begged
me to "Please not speak that language" in front of their
friends. Loving them, I gave up the battle and prepared to face
massive criticism from family and friends. A disappointment to
the Persian society, I learned to hang my head in shame. "Of
all the people, we thought you'd do better than that." They
I've never regretted my decision. While failing
Persian, they had a normal American childhood and were not culturally
their peers. Instead, as adults they showed pride in their heritage.
They now can pursue the study of my language if they should choose
to -- and one already has -- without feeling "different".
Do I laugh at their mistakes? Sometimes, but it is never with ridicule.
I am proud of the mere attempt and appreciate their efforts. The
mistakes they make is theirs and only theirs.
When this mixture of Persian and English (a.k.a.
Finglish) is criticized, our children are not the target. The criticism
is addresed to those
of us who came to this country as born and raised Persians who
knew no other language. Even those who did speak English, had a
firm grasp on their mother tongue. Now it is sad to listen to some
of us talk.
Thanks to the "salad" we've made of our two
languages even the non-Persian speakers have no trouble understanding
our conversations. While the accent remains Persian, every other
word is English. When our children do this, it is due to their
limited vocabulary and "a lack of better words". What
is our excuse?
No dear Lilly, you are not criticized, for your
generation's accomplishment is beyond expectation. It is us, the
parents/mentors who stand
corrected. Can 'Finglish' be exclusive to the young 'Iranicans',
this page to your friends