(It’s funny to be writing this on our Independence Day. What excellent timing.)
Here’s a fun fact about me many people online seem to miss: I’m actually Brazilian. People read my messages and assume I’m a native English speaker, then they hear my accent speaking English and most assume I’m just a generic Brit, some say I’m Australian, a few guess I’m Irish, Scottish, “an American imitating a British accent”, anything except Brazilian. How did I end up like this?
I started learning English when I was quite young, in school. That’s probably the same of most people here, and few ever seem to reach fluency —sounds like a brag, but I am merely stating an unfortunate fact— so I had a secret weapon in my arsenal that got me better. What was it, you might ask? Was it a kickass private tutor? Fancy grammar books? Attending an expensive British school? No, I learned English by playing crappy Flash games online. Truly, the pinnacle of education.
Every other day in 2008, I’d unplug my grandma’s landline and hook my computer up to a painfully sluggish dial-up connection (yeah, dial-up in 2008) to browse horrendous-looking websites for fashion doll movie tie-in games. Later around the early 2010s, I got into kids’ MMOs such as Club Penguin and my beloved Littlest Pet Shop Online where I started interacting with other children with my still-broken English, which was even better. I was confused, lost, I made a lot of mistakes, I embarrassed myself plenty of times, but all of this helped me gain confidence to fully immerse myself in the English-speaking internet later.
What about my accent, though? I actually had a normal Brazilian accent before. A pseudo-British accent came around 2017 from my exposure to British music and online content creators (like I said, pinnacle of education) after I started feeling self-conscious about my thick accent. It has since gotten muddled as I continued to interact with people from all over the world, which is why no one agrees on what I actually sound like.
So, as you can guess, I spend a lot of time in contact with the English language. It’s hard to tell, but I believe I spend more time immersed in English than Portuguese (my native language): I read most things in English, I watch things in English, most of the music I listen to is in English, hell, my fucking thoughts are in English now, and have been for a while! All of this might sound fantastic if you are a young beginner like I once was, but now I ponder about something more troubling: am I detaching myself from my own culture?
I think I am. Part of the trouble I have when trying to reach others in real life could possibly be attributed to the fact that I spend most of my time immersed in a culture separate to theirs, so even though we speak the same language I have trouble connecting with them. It often makes things awkward too, as my dumb ass forgets not everyone understands a foreign language. This awkwardness extends even to my artistic and professional careers: part of my output (such as this website) is in English which is incomprehensible to most of my compatriots, part is in Portuguese which is incomprehensible to most of the world. It has sort of turned into an internal war that has been raging in the back of mind: where do I even belong?
The answer to this is the same as anytime I ponder about any sort of belonging: I belong nowhere. Probably. And that’s fine, I have always been a person who forges her own path, this is just another stretch of it.
and it adds to my cool edgy lone wolf image heehoo It is not a matter of inserting myself into a tiny little box or being overly concerned with isolating myself from a vague “community”, but a matter of sharing my somewhat unique perspective with the world here. I hope.
One day I might create a version of melankorin.net translated to Portuguese, but don’t count on it. I’m very busy
sleeping, don’t you know?