The “Warmth” of the Mother Tongue


so much life, so little time ...

Recently I finished my second Coursera course mostly about English grammar. Apparently two thirds of the students were non-native speakers, which made peer assessments rather interesting. The writing didn’t always sound right even though a lot of people actually wrote grammatically correct English, perhaps more “correct” than native speakers. But who am I to judge! Being a non-native English speaker myself, I too suffer the same problem. After years of practice, I am still not perfectly sure when to and when not to use “the”, fuzzy about tenses, occasionally mix up phrases, and at times unaware of any awkwardness in my sentence constructions. Unlike one’s mother tongue, the mechanics seem to always show in any secondary languages however well-oiled the machinery is, particularly amongst languages that don’t have shared linguistic roots, such as English and Chinese.

I greatly admire those who write and publish works in secondary languages as if they were their native ones…

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