“Our House” by 萧靖彤 Cassandra Hsiao – Harvard Essay


  • Suddenly, understanding flower is flour wasn’t enough. I rejected the English that had never seemed broken before, a language that had raised me and taught me everything I knew. Everybody else’s parents spoke with accents smarting of Ph.D.s and university teaching positions. So why couldn’t mine?
  • 突然之间,我开始明白,如果只是知道花朵和面粉的发音相同是不够的。我开始逐渐摆脱了那些伴随着我长大的、曾经自以为还不错的英语,既然其他人的父母,都能说一口流利的英语,为什么我的父母不能呢?
  • My mother spread her sunbaked hands and said, “This is where I came from,” spinning a tale with the English she had taught herself.
  • 我的母亲摊开她那双晒黑的手说:“我就是从这儿来的”,她用自己以前学过的英语讲了一个故事。
  • When my mother moved from her village to a town in Malaysia, she had to learn a brand new language in middle school: English. In a time when humiliation was encouraged, my mother was defenseless against the cruel words spewing from the teacher, who criticized her paper in front of the class. When she began to cry, the class president stood up and said, “That’s enough.”
  • 当我母亲从她居住的马来西亚村庄搬到一个城镇时,她不得不在初中开始学习一门全新的语言:英语。当时很多人以羞辱别人为乐,当她的老师当着全班的面,用尖酸的语言嘲笑她的作文时,她无力反抗。当她开始哭泣时,班长站起来说“够了”。
  • “Be like that class president,” my mother said with tears in her eyes. The class president took her under her wing and patiently mended my mother’s strands of language. “She stood up for the weak and used her words to fight back.”
  • “要像那个班长一样”,妈妈含着泪说,要为弱者说话。要知道那个班长不仅保护了她,还耐心地帮她提高语言。
  • We were both crying now. My mother asked me to teach her proper English so old white ladies at Target wouldn’t laugh at her pronunciation. It has not been easy. There is a measure of guilt when I sew her letters together. Long vowels, double consonants — I am still learning myself. Sometimes I let the brokenness slide to spare her pride but perhaps I have hurt her more to spare mine.
  • 母亲要我教她正确的英语,这样Target 商场的白人老太太就不会嘲笑她的发音了。当我把她的话拼缀在一起时,会有一种歉疚感。长元音、双辅音,其实这些我自己也仍在学习。有时候我避免让一些只言片语伤害她的自尊心,但我可能已经在不经意时,伤害了她很多。
  • As my mother’s vocabulary began to grow, I mended my own English. Through performing poetry in front of 3000 at my school’s Season Finale event, interviewing people from all walks of life, and writing stories for the stage, I stand against ignorance and become a voice for the homeless, the refugees, the ignored. With my words I fight against jeers pelted at an old Asian street performer on a New York subway. My mother’s eyes are reflected in underprivileged ESL children who have so many stories to tell but do not know how. I fill them with words as they take needle and thread to make a tapestry.
  • 随着妈妈英语词汇不断增加,我的英语也在不断进步。我可以在学校3000多人面前朗诵诗歌,还采访了各界人士、写舞台剧,站出来为无家可归者、难民和弱势群体发声。在纽约地铁,有些人会嘲笑街头艺人,我也用站出来和他们对抗。我还会教那些贫穷的、英语非母语的孩子学英语,看到他们有很多故事要讲、但又不知道如何表达的样子时,我仿佛看到了我妈妈的过去
  • In our house, there is beauty in the way we speak to each other. In our house, language is not broken but rather bursting with emotion. We have built a house out of words. There are friendly snakes in the cupboard and snacks in the tank. It is a crooked house. It is a little messy. But this is where we have made our home.
  • 在我们家里,家人之间说话的方式也很温馨。在我家里,我们说话的方式很美。在我家里,我们的话并不‘烂’,而是充满了感情。我们用词语建了一座房子……这房子有点歪,有点杂乱无章,但这是我们的家。


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