Special Use of a Second Language

I want to share with you a realization I had the other day in a raised-owning-class group. Since this RC Community (Greece) operates pretty much bilingually (due to Margie Doyle-Papadopoulou's clear and constant insistence that it must be that way), during the meeting our Greek members were working on translating the Owning-Class Commitment into Greek. At one point they read it out loud to those of us who are fluent in Greek but have another mother tongue. As they were reading, another U.S. woman and I looked at each other with surprised and excited expressions on our faces.

Later on we talked about what both of us had been experiencing simultaneously: So much of our first language is dripping with distress - the words, the connotations, the sounds, the connections - because it is so interwoven with our early lives. Our second language, which we learned in adulthood, has much less, and lighter, distress attached to it. Counseling in the first language, we have discovered, often takes us to deep and early feelings, but counseling in the second language can "keep our attention off the distress" and bring us much closer and more directly to the real meaning of the words. We tried working on the commitment in Greek, and it was wonderful. For the first time I actually "heard" the words rather than going off into my distress just thinking about the first sentence! My discharge was on the reality of what is possible and within reach.

I think this sheds new light on counseling for those of us lucky enough to live with and use two languages.

  Becky Sakellariou
Athens, Greece


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07