Why I do not Write in Another Language

Omar Bihmidine is a high school teacher of English. He holds a BA from Ibn Zohr University, Agadir. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine  and  ALC Oasis magazine in Agadir.

Sidi Ifni, Morocco,

You must write in French too so that we will understand what you writing on,” said a French teacher to me the other day. He complained to me about his inability to understand the gist of all the articles. I wondered about this for some time before answering him back. In response to his complaint, I said that I did not write in French because I was not good enough at it. And I added that it was not because I was unable to learn it as perfectly as I had done with English but rather because I did not feel like learning it whatsoever. Sometimes, I have the desire to learn it so as to write in it. Yet, most of the time, I just escape the idea.

Some people might write to me again advising that one should know something about French for the sake of communication. I very well know what type of communication they are talking about. I would not of course say no to their suggestion. But, for me, if I don’t write in a language accurately, I do not think I am communicating anything. Of course, I know some basics about French. However, they are not enough for me to write in it. And the teacher who himself advised me to write in it does not write in it either. Here, learning a language so as to write in it is so demanding. And this is one reason why I have decided not to learn French perfectly.
I know that if I make up my mind to learn French, I will no longer have much free time. I will have to read as many French novels as I have done in English. And I am of course ready to do that at any time. However, every time I look back on my knowledge of English, I still feel an insatiable and strong desire to read more voraciously in order to improve my writing skills more. It is something that I can not help. Up to now, I do not think I can do the same with French. I will only take this challenge only when I feel that my voice must be heard in French. Time alone will tell whether or not I will be a writer in French.
As I was one day conversing with a university teacher, I raised this topic. And to my utter surprise, he definitely agreed with me, the thing I had not expected. When I told him about the languages I spoke then, he said that I had to focus so much on one language so that I would produce something. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I should not exceed one language. One can learn many languages at the same time, but he must choose the language he is going to write in. This choice is a must, for writing needs concentration, mature efforts and great mastery.
Last summer, I had the chance to talk to Mohamed Khair Eddine’s father. Khair Eddine was a great Moroccan novelist and poet. Sartre once described this author the greatest exponent of the French language alive at the time. One of the questions I asked his father was how many languages his son used to speak. He said that he spoke Berber, his mother tongue, Arabic, and French. He added that his son mastered French so powerfully that other French famous authors like Beckett made his acquaintance. At the time, I was so curious to know the secret to his son becoming a genius among the French intelligentsia.
It was only after some time did I learn from his father that he had read voraciously mainly in French . He concentrated on one language. Thus, he succeeded in producing great literary works. Frankly speaking, I do not believe that he would have succeeded in reaching this literary position had he studied many languages simultaneously. I would say that studying many languages at the same time is favorable, but do not take it for granted that by doing so, you will one day manage to write as prominently as distinguished authors do. Fear of the latter problem is behind deciding not to write in another language.

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