It started with a debate with a friend. License and Licence, which one is British and which is American? Okay, here it is: all in my (British) English language trained mind, I thought Licence with the ‘c’ was American and the other was British. It’s the other way round.
Now, I don’t underestimate my dictionary. I pick it whenever I am unsure of the spelling or usage of a word. That’s just by the way. The debate went into other things. What language should one write in? Your mother tongue which many scarcely understand? English language which itself presents its own challenges? Many people think in English language and don’t trust themselves when it comes to using the language creatively? You need to read a Morrison or an Achebe…Morrison recreates language; she makes it her own…she laces her words with music and symbols that make them look different. Achebe ‘Igbolises’ his words, lasing them with native proverbs and wise sayings. He uses the master’s language to free himself. You literally think that you are hearing English read to you in Igbo.
There are many varieties of language. Your native language, English language, there is pidgin, there is the new ‘internet language’ exactly what should a writer use to write? Should you just write in a tongue you are comfortable with?
NB. There was the debate, uproar which started with Adaobi Nwaubani’s article. Several have responded. You can enjoy the debates.