Cover Photo: An image of the author as a child sitting  in a chair with her hands and legs crossed
Photographs courtesy of the author

The Pain of Losing Your First Language

What else did I lose to assimilate?

Nei hou?Ngo gong siu siu gongdongwa

Why do I have to be so Chinese?



How old are you now?

What if we’d never stopped talking? Who would I have been? What would we have shared? What stories could she have told me?

A dollar!yàuhjagwái

HaSounds like something my grandma would have said.

Can anyone else hear this?

Maybe I can learn it again

laalaaauhuh What are you doing?


What are you doing?

Kristin Wong is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, ELLE, Travel + Leisure, and The Cut among other publications. She frequently writes about behavior and identity and is also a staff writer and researcher at Hidden Brain Media, where she contributes to the Hidden Brain podcast and radio show.