I read a report today which dealt with the fact that a broad linguistic repertoire may, instead of being something desirable, in some cases not come useful or even turn out to be a disadvantage. You may ask yourself how this can be possible.
Well, given the fact that most of us see languages as a asset we may acquire, there is no point in believing in this theory (and until I read this article, I thought the same way). But I’ve finally come to realise what I’ve been told over and over again over the course of the past 2 years of my studies- that, as soon as you really take up learning another language, you pick something new and add them to your personality.
So one part of you just becomes (add whatever additional language you’re able of speaking). The thing is that this is something very personal, something most people won’t be able to understand because they’re just not that into languages. With every moment you’re living in this language, your (insert language) world becomes more real to you. And that’s beautiful, but also it’s the hell of a problem. As the report states:
The more linguistic variation you show, the more vulnerable you may become. (… it may) turn into a liability, a critical matter of belonging, and, in 10 out of 10 observed cases, exclusion. The more linguistic resources you boast, the more destinations you could be returned to…
When Plurilingual Speakers Encounter Unilingual Environments (by PluS Research Group, University of Vienna, 2011
It is something every multilingual person, no matter whether by birth or by choice, somehow knows but is not always conscious about. Being aware of it in that way does not resolve the issue, but it makes it easier to deal with it. Somehow, we will never completely feel at home because there’s always some other part which doesn’t get enough attention. But it’s the most beautiful of all gifts to be given – to be capable of perceiving the world in so many different ways.