I don't write like my mother, but for many years I spoke like her, and her particular, timorous relationship with language has shaped my own. There are people who move confidently within their own horizons of speech; whether it is cockney, estuary, RP or valley girl, they stride with the unselfconscious ease of a landowner on his own turf. My mother, Rose, was never like that. She never owned the language she spoke. Her displacement within the intricacies of English class, and the uncertainty that went with it, taught her to regard language as something that might go off in her face, like a letter bomb. A word bomb. I've inherited her wariness, or more accurately, I learnt it as a child. I used to think I would have to spend a lifetime shaking it off. Now I know that's impossible, and unnecessary, and that you have to work with what you've got.As a working-class refugee in a posh girl's grammar school, burdened with my parents shortened vowel sounds and North Midlands dialect words (and yes, it also took me time to learn that you don't say skelington and chimley!) I can completely identify with Ian McEwan's struggles with the English language which he describes in The Times.
It's not only non-native speakers who have to wrestle with it, y'know!