A long time ago (January 1993), in China, Barbra, who taught English as a second language at RMIT, said that I spoke English like and advanced chinese student who spoke English as a second language.
For a long time this caused me very great difficulty. I mean it raised the question of whey was my first language? I mean I tried Chinese as my first language, but that never worked.
It always thought that maybe it was the version of English I spoke. I had been back to Singapore, but at the time had not been pondering such issues. I thought it was maybe it was because I spoke English (foot-a-scary). That was the best fit, but still did not really explain it. I wondered if it was because I made the same mistakes my father made as a chinese speaker of English. That made the most sense.
It was not until I went to Malaysia that it all came together. My current theory is this.
- First language – English (chinese/Malaysian)
- Second language – Chinese (Chinese/Malaysian – that is a mix of Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese.)
- Third language -English (Australian -particularly country NSW and western Melbourne)
- Forth language -Chinese (mandarin)
My second language was what I learned until I was six, do it is improperly developed, contains multiple dialects and gets in the way all the time. It is the language I revert to when I am being emotional because I am sad and I am very tired.
The english in australia is complicated as it is a mix of my mothers family’s English which is country NSW english, the English of the migrants of western melbourne and the English of the Australians of western Melbourne.