January 05, 2009
When I came to America as an eighteen-year old, my written English was quite good because I had studied English in School since I was nine years old. But it was the English of German nuns—the Ursulines, then the sisters of Sacre Coeur—and countless words were missing: curses, slang, certain body parts.
Speaking English was much harder than reading it. Often I felt so slow that I stayed silent rather than risk not being understood. "Huh?" people would ask. If I'd repeat what I'd just said, they'd ask again, forcing me to repeat myself until I was whispering with embarrassment.
I loved the lack of formality, but it...