I was not born into this language. Neither was my father, my grandparents, nor any relative I have known. The only claim I have to this tongue is a name, misplaced by circumstance, new children, an attempt at solidarity, hope. My father was no longer an Andersen when my grandmother divorced her first husband and married another. She took a third name in hopes of a better home and a better family for her son. Can men have maiden names as well?
So often it seems our names are our first claim to a heritage. We speak of a greater past, a sum of choices, with each letter, each syllable. Andersen: the son of Ander. To ask who Ander was is to ask what kind of man Adam was. The reality is beyond us now but carried forward nonetheless. Or, for others, the marks of change and escape are already born. Marlowe drains off the extra e into a sea of silent vowels. Rabinowitz tries to modestly become Rabin. Greer so completely orphaned from MacGregor. What do we gain when we work to reclaim what seems to be rightfully ours?
But, I have done nothing to grant you confidence in my ability as a translator. I can only tell you how I came to this language: groping, uncertain, unready. My tongue hesitantly testing the sound beneath feet, beneath the rhythm. Only by watching every vowel and holding every word have I found purchase within the work. I cannot claim great ability but I am persistent. I cannot mimic voice but I can nurture intent. I have gained new speech and will not relinquish it unchanged.