‘Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive’ by Phuc Tran

I finally watched this video that my brother sent me a while ago. And I think it was perfect timing because I just finished When Heaven and Earth Changed Places this weekend, a book about a Vietnamese refugee’s experiences during the war and coming back to Vietnam years later as an adult. (This video isn’t actually about being Vietnamese refugee, but that’s how he launches his story and it was just an interesting tie into what I was just reading).

Tran talks about how the subjunctive (what might have been) isn’t a part of the language in Vietnamese, only the imperative is present. Since he grew up in the America, he the English language ‘allowed’ him able to dream about what could be, but that he found real value in the imperative speech of his family. Sometimes it’s better not to speculate on what could be, should be, would be in an alternative reality. It was a refreshing reminder for me, someone who constantly lives in the subjunctive.


Your Turn: