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In An Album for Gustav, Oksana Zabuzhko tals

When people ask me this question and I try to answer, every time I feel like I come up against a solid wall inside myself, a profound lack of desire to explain anything, muddling in my inadequate English, to mutter that hard is not quite the right word, and it doesn't really fit what we experienced during those three weeks.

Later, she stated that "I dearly wished that I spoke better German - and the old man, better English - we could hardly talk about anything important with our tourist-minimum vocabularies."

Is the author referring to herself and her own knowledge of languages here, or is that just the character? Which languages does the author know well?

Also, why does she wish that the old man spoke better English if her own English was inadequate?

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