Italicized Non-English Words In Fiction: Why I hate Them

I hate reading books where every word that isn’t English is italicized. I feel as if the author is assuming that I am not intelligent enough to look up an unfamiliar word or that I am so content (read arrogant) in my knowledge that I cannot be bothered to learn something new. Learning words in another language to me is akin to opening the door to a whole other world. A world with different nuances and meanings than the one I am accustomed to. Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about another cultures and other traditions? It enriches my world and gives new meaning to my life when I have access to other lives, other experiences. It makes me feel connected to people in a way that is hard to describe. It’s about delving into something basic, so fundamental that it transcends words and language. But most of all it’s just so wonderful to realize that despite all the outward differences, the sounds and accents and appearances we are all ultimately connected to each other by love and joy and pain and suffering. So when I see a word italicized only because of its otherness, I feel as though a door is closing in my face. I feel as if I cannot truly connect. And that makes me sad.

My Life As A Hyphenated Person

I’ve spent my entire life with a hyphenated identity. I was born in Germany to a Pakistani mother and a Bangladeshi father. Technically Bangladesh didn’t exist when I was born. But Bengali nationalism in what was then East Pakistan was alive and kicking, strong enough to demand a country of its own until in 1971 it gained independence. And I gained a hyphenated identity. In Germany I was the “Indian”- German, then later in Bangladesh, the half-Pakistani and as an adult I am Indo-Canadian. It’s an interesting experience going through life with labels that others put on you, especially when they mean next to nothing to you. As a child growing up in Germany, I was very much aware that I was the other, simply because in small town Germany back then, ours was the only brown-skinned family. Later we moved to Bangladesh where I lived for the next seventeen years. In all that time I only knew a couple of other children whose parents were like mine, but it was not something that we talked about to each other. And although in Bangladesh my skin color was like everyone else’s, there was something intangible that separated me from them. My mother warned me not to speak Urdu in public, because Bangladesh was still nursing wounds fresh from a horrific war for independence from Pakistan. But as a child, this hatred for Pakistanis that simmered just below the surface was not within my grasp. I heard the taunts and jabs that were made at our expense, but I couldn’t understand the reasons behind them. But the feelings were the same. In Germany I was made to feel dirty because of my brown skin and in Bangladesh it was because of where my mother happened to be from. Either way it determined the way I saw myself. It took years for me to accept that none of this had anything to do with who I was. It had everything to do with the assumptions that people made about me based on my last name, my skin color, my religion. When I did realize it, I felt free. Finally, after years of carrying a burden that wasn’t mine, I was able to shed the responsibility of being acceptable. With this freedom came a brand new perspective. I realized that I didn’t necessarily embody the qualities that are automatically attributed to me.

My experiences in straddling cultures doesn’t end with me. I met and married a Hindu man from South India and as a result my children will forever be hyphenated. They will always be seen by some as half-Hindu and half-Muslim, by others as half-Bengali and half Indian, although the fact that they were born in Texas and I am not a full Bengali messes with the mathematics of their heritage. But the way I see it, the fractions add up to a whole and as long as they feel whole with themselves that’s all that matters. The rest is just semantics.

YA Scavenger Hunt Fall 2015

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

                Hello! I am Sabina Khan and I will be your host for this leg of the hunt.

10733772_878872508789928_2805453803771163663_oA little bit about me:

I LOVE karaoke!

And puppies. When I’m rich and famous I want to rescue puppies and cuddle them all day.

I love to learn languages: Currently I speak German, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and of course English. I’m mastering the art of procrastination in writing by learning Spanish online.

While I was writing my first book I made two new best friends: gummy worms and vodka.

But enough about me. You are currently hunting on the Pink Team!

Team Pink

YASH PINK TEAM 2015

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a blue team,a teal team, a purple team and a green team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, somewhere in this post, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the pink team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Oct 4 at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the fabulous Kate Karyus Quinn for the YA Scavenger Hunt.

Kate-Karyus-Quinn-225x300

Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character. She is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, (DON’T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME, and the upcoming DOWN WITH THE SHINE (April 16th, 2016) all from HarperTeen.

Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here! 

www.katekaryusquinn.com

Kate Quinn

Check out her book here:

Even the lightest hearts have shaded corners to hide the black thoughts that come at night. Experience the darker side of young adult as 13 authors explore the places that others prefer to leave among the shadows. Including stories from: Lenore Appelhans, Joelle Charbonneau, Kelly Fiore, Geoffrey Girard, Justina Ireland, Lydia Kang, RC Lewis, Demitria Lunetta, Mindy McGinnis, Gretchen McNeil, Phoebe North, Kate Karyus Quinn, and Beth Revis.

And that’s not all! Enjoy some EXCLUSIVE CONTENT from Kate:

from THE ONE TRUE MIRANDA LIEU

Everyone has their breaking point. Turns out mine is having my father return from the dead.
I come home from school and there he is standing with Mother in the middle of the living room. His arm draped along her shoulders. Hers around his waist. They can’t possibly be comfortable. It looks as if they’re posing for a picture, and I can’t help but wonder how long they’ve been waiting here. But then again they never do seem quite at ease when they’re together.
“Miranda, isn’t this a surprise?” my mother squeals, proving once again that she has mastered the art of the understatement. It’s a shame they don’t hand out trophies for that type of thing.
“I hate surprises,” I answer. Which is true and which she would know if she paid the least bit of attention to me beyond what I’m wearing and how many times I’ve frowned (“Always aim for a zero frowny face day!”).
My distrust of surprises goes all the way back to my fifth birthday party. It was on that bright and sunny day when I received a beautiful pink pony, her flowing mane braided and bowed. She was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen and she was all mine to keep forever and always. In that first glimpse of her I imagined us having a million different adventures together. My love was instant and complete.
Still it was difficult to be gracious when my parents insisted my party guests be allowed to ride her before me. “After today she’s all yours and only yours, Miranda,” Father said with the same warm chuckle that always accompanied reprimands or admonishments to behave better. “Let the other children have a chance.”
So I waited and waited until at last it was my turn. Of course, my parents had to make it a big production. As I approached the pony, a carrot clutched in my fist, all the other kids circled around, clapping and cheering. Just as I stretched out a hand to stroke her velvety soft nose, there was a terrible rumbling sound.
And then the beautiful pink pony spontaneously combusted.
So when someone mentions a surprise, perhaps it is inevitable that it always makes me think of being spattered with pink pony guts and the feel of them dripping off my face while all around me my friends screamed and screamed and screamed.
This then is why I don’t rush to hug and kiss my long-lost father. One never knows who might blow up next.
Also, I rather hate him. I’d been told not to say such things when he was dead, but seeing as how he’s miraculously resurrected, it looks like hating him is back on the table again.
Trust me, I have my reasons for it.
A year ago I caught him getting it on with Miss Gruber. Even naked I recognized her immediately. She’d been my teacher for kindergarten and then again in third grade. I’d had fond memories of her. She was always so encouraging. “Good job, sweetie,” she’d say to everyone, even the kids who were doing a terrible job. With my father it was more of a “Yes, yes, just like that, sweetie baby,” but the chirpy tone of encouragement was grossly familiar.
Really, it wasn’t the cheating that had bothered me. I’d never believed my parents were in love or even particularly liked each other. But all that naked shaking flesh was unpleasant. Worse yet was my father announcing, “I’m sorry you walked in on me having relations with a woman who is clearly not your mother.” Sometimes my father talked like he had a robot living inside him. Maybe that’s why he’s alive again.
Anyway, after he’d gotten dressed and sent Miss Gruber home we’d had a talk. He apologized and said he’d done things he wasn’t proud of. A few tears had fallen (his, not mine; it’s been years since I’ve given anyone the satisfaction of seeing me cry) and he’d quickly wiped them away. Then he asked if I was still his “little kitten?” I’d known the correct answer was, “Yes, of course.” But honestly, had I ever been his little kitten? I had vague memories of him saying it once or twice when I was younger. Almost as if he was trying it out. But for him to bring it back after all this time . . .
“Kitten!” he exclaims now, apparently reading my mind, except not the part of it that thinks his nickname for me is gross and wrong.
“Surprise!” Mother says once more.
“I was never really dead,” Father adds, that old chuckle bubbling up. “It was all just for the insurance money.”
Mother glares at him like he’s stepped on her lines. The moment feels familiar in a way that is neither warm nor comforting. She’s always given him that same glare, as if every time he speaks he’s stealing the words out of her mouth. Now she hisses, “Wait ’til she asks the question, darling.”
I stare at my parents. These two strange slippery people that seem less knowable and more changeable the older I get. Oh I love them, of course. I suppose. But dear gods, I’d have given anything to know that I wouldn’t have to share the same small town with them for the rest of my life.
We all stare at each other as the clock loudly ticks the seconds. None of us spontaneously combust. I try not to be disappointed.
Available April 26th, 2016 from HarperTeen

Wasn’t that awesome? Check out all the authors on the 8 teams in the Scavenger Hunt and discover your new favorites!

To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is…8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the pink team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

Bonus Draw

Thank you so much for visiting my website! While you’re here, don’t forget to enter the bonus draw I am running exclusively during the YA Scavenger Hunt.

For the BONUS draw, do the following (see the Rafflecopter link below):

-Tweet about #YASH

-Comment on this blog: Who is your favourite goddess from any mythology and why?

Check out other ways to earn points in:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For the bonus contest  I will be giving away Ebook copies of my book REALM OF THE GODDESS.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author:

Kai McCarthy by visiting her website here:

http://kaimccarthy.blogspot.com/