This blog post was brought to you by the generosity of AJATT's patrons!

If you would like to support the continuing production of AJATT content, please consider making a monthly donation through Patreon.

Right there ↑ . Go on. Click on it. Patrons get goodies like early access to content (days, weeks, months and even YEARS before everyone else), mutlimedia stuff and other goodies!

Forget Your Roots, They’ll Still Be There

We are often enjoined to “remember our roots”. Like Simba, we are to “remember who you [we] are!”. 1

People who “forget their roots” are considered shallow and evil. I remember once reading some UK forum post (yeah, don’t ask) about how Catherine Zeta-Jones was “too good” to speak in an English/Welsh accent and had “forgotten where she came from”. 2

Jennifer Lopez assures us she’s a good person, because she’s “still Jenny from the block”, adding that “no matter what, I know where I came from”.


Who are these people constantly opposing change?
Remember my roots? What are you, a botanist? What am I, a far king tree? What, I live in an arboretum now? All this time I thought I had legs for going places, but no…it was roots…and they need me to remember them?

Because, what, otherwise?

‘Coz, here’s where it get interesting.
These same schmuckwads angrily reminding us to remember our roots are also the first to sharply tell those demonstrating symptoms of radical amnesia (root forgetfulness,  for the Saxonly inclined), of deracination, to
(i) “remember who you are!” and that
(ii) “you’ll never be X, no matter what you do!”.

Well, if (ii) is true, then…problem solved right?
If you can never transcend your roots, then it’s OK to forget them, because they’ll always be there.

Einstein once said (I think) that ” “education is what is left after you’ve forgotten everything you’ve learned [in school]”. Well, perhaps your roots are what’s left after everything has been done to forget or suppress them. Or not, I dunno. I’m just saying I’m living in Japan but eating chapattis on a near-daily basis, something rooty is up 🙂 .

Am I anti-roots? No. Absolutely not.
Tanzania prioritizing Swahili? Awesome.
Ireland promoting Gaelic? Hibernially awesome.
Welsh in Wales? Wicked.

Because forcing people to abandon their roots — which is, of course, what happened in those countries and many others — is just as wrong as forcing people to stick to them exclusively and unwaveringly. Wronger, actually. Sick and wrong. It was and is an evil thing done by evil people.

So does that mean we shouldn’t freely choose to go balls to the interior wall in learning Japanese and other dialects of Humanese? I mean, was Patrick Stewart supposed to “remember his roots” and persist in speaking in a Yorkshire accent for the rest of his life, come heck or Star Trek? Is that keepin’ it real? Is that representin‘? Is he a “sell-out”? Just what did he sell and to whom? Was it so valuable that it was worth a life of, frankly, rather difficult and unremunerative manual labor?

Like a famous English teacher from China once said 3, if you have beef with a certain group of people, if you hate them, then all the more reason to learn their language so you can…I dunno, watch their TV shows. 4

In any case, your roots will always be there. That’s what roots do. You don’t need to remember them. They’re there. Inside you. Always.

But don’t think you have to let your roots be the same as your stem and branches and  leaves 5. You can grow. You can change. You can expand. If you wanna be a nice, big, thick, long, tall, woody tree, or even a strawberry plant spread all over the place, then you’re probably destined to put some distance between your roots and every other part of the plant that is supposedly you. Not to mention your seed 6. That’s what progress is about.

Plus, you’re not actually a plant, so…yeah. Eyes. Legs. Brain. Hands. You’ve got those for real. Use ’em.

While we’re on the subject of nature metaphors, perhaps think of it this way: you just aren’t that important. You simply don’t matter so much to your country and your people and your native language that your personally learning a foreign language will affect it either way. Even if you had never been born, your native language would not substantially differ from its current state.

You came from nothing, from nowhere, a single cell, and you’re headed right back there. You live in and will die into obscurity. Even if you’re famous now, assuming you’re not forgotten, everything people remember about you will be wrong or a lie; they won’t even get your name right! It’s said that more than 90% of the people who’ve ever lived are dead. Presumably, tens of thousands — millions? — of these people are your direct ancestors. How many of their names do you know? 7 Yeah. And you’re worried about what language the cartoons you watch are in?

Come now…


  1. Let’s put aside the fact that everyone who’s ever told me to “remember my roots” was a bit of a loser whom I wouldn’t want to be or live like.
  2. Similar deal for Christian Bale.
  3. Yes, I know the quote is from a Shady McShadeson & Sons website; this is not an endorsement of their…content…existence…whatever: they’re just the source of a quote I read like seven/eight years ago; we don’t have to like or even agree with people to quote them. If you only read people who agreed with you, you’d have nothing left to read, mate. In fact, you couldn’t even read your own writing 😛 .
  4. Plus, yeah, straight up espionage obviously goes over a whole lot easier when you can actually understand what you’re…espioning…an idea which is lost on all the people who, at various times in history, had a bovine miscarriage if Japanese people learned English or Americans learned Russian.
  5. And sometimes, just sometimes, your roots suck and are best forgotten. No, I’m not talking about you and me, our roots are boss. But you and I both know that one guy who could stand to forget his precious “roots”.
  6. hehehehehe….it’s funny because it’s about sex
  7. Better yet: What languages did they speak?! Seriously, if we’re going to get rootist, shouldn’t you be speaking Humanese, the original, single human language, the language of your first ancestors???

  8 comments for “Forget Your Roots, They’ll Still Be There

  1. 李便神
    December 17, 2012 at 04:33

    Awesome. I’ve been pondering this for a long time. Everyone is born into a certain place of this world by “chance”. So why not change that?

  2. 李便神
    December 17, 2012 at 05:05


  3. Pingfa
    December 17, 2012 at 06:46

    Indeed. I personally dislike it when somebody labels me as British. My reply is ‘I’m not British. I’m a person that happened to be born in a place called Britain.’

  4. 魔法少女☆かなたん
    December 17, 2012 at 14:48

    WorldNetDaily? So *that’s* why you’ve been referencing so many conspiracy theories lately. 😛

    Also, plants grow their roots into new places. Bad metaphors must be executed, put to death, and terminated. Or something.

  5. Romuś
    December 17, 2012 at 20:34

    As Lao Tzu once said: “If you let go of what you are, you become what you might be.”

  6. Flo
    December 18, 2012 at 01:20

    しかも相変わらずユーモアたっぷり!特にこのセリフが大好き:「In any case, your roots will always be there. That’s what roots do.」(笑)
    Khatz I love you baby, 早速結婚しよう!

  7. dave
    December 18, 2012 at 09:07

    You can prove to pesky people that you haven’t phorgotten your provenience with a simple tool: an SRS. For quite some time I have regularly put interesting quotes, sayings, and moves et cetera made by people/friends I know directly into my SRS. Kind of the old “everyone has something to teach you” advice, but you can use it beef up your conversation for the future when acquaintances accost you with those inevitable nostalgia quizzes. Remembering stuff your “friends” don’t about your past interactions can be charming and alarming.

  8. December 19, 2012 at 08:10

    And who’s to say you can’t uproot those roots and plant them elsewhere? Bad botanical metaphors aside, in order to appease others around me who are wanting to have some festive music on, I’ve found myself assembling a playlist of Japanese Christmas songs.

    ..also hurray for strawberries being spread all over the place! :3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *