I was born in Germany and raised in the Netherlands by an American father and a Dutch mother. I’m the youngest of three, my sisters are five and seven years older than I am. They were both born in the United States and my father always spoke English to them, but for some reason, he spoke Dutch to me.
So when I was a kid, I would be annoyed, and demand a vertaling when my parents spoke English to each other. It didn’t take long until I decided I wanted my dad to speak English to me as well (which he’d often forget, switching back to Dutch). I don’t remember how old I was when he finally spoke English to me, but I think it was before I turned twelve.
Since I grew up hearing English spoken at home, I picked it up quickly and was soon considered a native speaker. But when you aspire to write, being seemingly fluent isn’t good enough. There were still many words I didn’t know—words my father didn’t use. Being bilingual and aiming to become a published author was a struggle, to say the least.
I had to choose which language I wanted to write in; Dutch—a language that makes you cringe while attempting to write stories—or English. My vocabulary wasn’t ample in either case. I always found English a much more descriptive language, so I figured it was best to develop my English. I’m glad I made that choice, books written in English are easier to market.
I just remembered something, when I was little, I once asked my parents: “Muis is mouse, right?”
They went quiet and nodded.
“And huis is house?” I added.
They nodded again.
“So, is buis, bouse?” I finally asked.
Obviously, it wasn’t.