PDA

View Full Version : In what language do you think?



Yeshanu
07-26-2010, 03:35 AM
Ran across this (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html?m od=WSJ_newsreel_lifeStyle) article today. Unfortunately, I don't fluently speak any language other than English, and can read only French and English, so I've never had the chance to experience any of the phenomena mentioned. It does make me want to learn another language, just to understand more viscerally what he's talking about though.

Interesting ideas for us fantasy novelists, too. Elves and dwarves probably have difficulties understanding one another because their language places different emphases on different things.

Kateness
07-26-2010, 03:46 AM
I absolutely think in English. I don't speak any of my other languages nearly well enough, and thinking in them would be painful.

The article mentions Russian, and I think that if I did think in Russian, it would be very different. As it mentions, nearly every part of a sentence has to be put into the proper grammatical case (you can order your sentence nearly any way you choose as long as your grammar is right, and the sentence will still mean the same thing). But the other thing that strikes me are verbs of motion. There are a ridiculous number of verbs that have to do with motion and if that wasn't bad enough, there are three forms of each verb: unidirectional imperfective, multidirectional imperfective, and perfective. They each describe a very specific type of motion. In English, you can say that I walked to work. In Russian, you'd use a different verb if it was a habitual action or if you walked there and back. There is a lot more precision, in that sense, compared to the ambiguity of the English sentence. And the other thing that occurs to me is the way some sentences are written reflexively. (Think of the meme, in Soviet Russia [noun] [verbs] you!) For example, my name is... actually is written The name of me is. I could imagine that syntax like that could have you thinking about things differently.

[/end ramble]

Liosse de Velishaf
07-26-2010, 04:09 AM
I mostly think in English. I don't know any other languages fluently. But every now and then, I have a snippet in Japanese or Italian. Or a conlang. Rarely Latin.

kaitie
07-26-2010, 05:14 AM
It depends on which language I'm functioning in. If I'm speaking Japanese or reading Japanese, I think in Japanese as well. Vice versa is also true. I'm not a good code switcher, and this is probably partly why. If I'm speaking a lot of Japanese and thinking in Japanese, it'll actually throw me off to have to speak in English, even though it's my native language. It's weird.

backslashbaby
07-26-2010, 05:36 AM
That's a very interesting article!

I think in English, but while in French-speaking places, or when reading it, think simple thoughts in French. Same for Spanish. The more complex it is, the more likely that I'll have to translate in my mind.

I've never been good enough in German to really think in it, except for very simple things.

I bet in Spain I'd forget who broke the vase, too (from the article). But for me, I know my memory improves by far if I say something out loud, so I bet by thinking the name rather than not, I'd have better memory for it. That's still language affecting thought, of course, but I think it may be more indirect than the article makes out, imho.

Yasaibatake
07-26-2010, 06:45 AM
It depends on which language I'm functioning in. If I'm speaking Japanese or reading Japanese, I think in Japanese as well. Vice versa is also true. I'm not a good code switcher, and this is probably partly why. If I'm speaking a lot of Japanese and thinking in Japanese, it'll actually throw me off to have to speak in English, even though it's my native language. It's weird.

This is exactly what happens to me too, only in French. If I have been functioning in French, even just for a few minutes, I absolutely think in French. And just to nudge the issue a little more (I admit I only skimmed the article), I think within a French cultural viewpoint as well. I say, think, and do different things than if I had been in my English mind. Flipping between the two requires a conscious effort more often than not and can honestly sometimes be a little irritating. I don't always want to switch, especially when I'm in my French mind but I need to talk to someone who only speaks English. All of which is exactly why my family has learned to understand at least a little French!

Cliff Face
07-26-2010, 12:21 PM
Well, I think in English, though whenever I'm thinking *about* Italian as a language I'd love to learn, little snippets come to my mind in Italian, and *sometimes* I don't translate them in my head, but more often I do have a little sub-thought, like, "Grazie... *Thankyou*" in my head.

I also have different emotions and impulses when I'm thinking Italian words. Like, just daydreaming about having a basic conversation in Italian makes me want to flirt, only I don't know the right words for flirting in Italian. I hardly ever want to flirt in English, because in English we mostly have "Pick-up lines" whereas Italian has entire tracts of "Flirtatious conversation" - like, flirting is built-in to Italian much better than in English, IMO. (I'm reading a book called La Bella Lingua all about the Italian language, and the author has so far mentioned flirting about 5 times in 3 chapters. They don't sound like pick-up lines, either... just emotional conversation bordering on the flirtatious.)

So basically, just one of the dozens of reasons I want to learn to speak Italian fluently is that in Italian I could train myself to be a casanova, whereas in English I'm all like, "Oh, nice shoes." *eyeroll*

10trackers
07-26-2010, 02:42 PM
Since most of my professional life revolves around English, I write in English and a lot of my friends speak English, I tend to think in English a lot of the time (my native language is Dutch).

That leads to amusing situations in which I'll prepare difficult conversations in my head (I do that, I get nervous sometimes) and when the time rolls around that I actually have the conversation, I realize my prepared conversation was in English and my conversation partner is Dutch. Oops.

Dr. Chomsky proposed that there is a universal grammar for all human languages—essentially, that languages don't really differ from one another in significant ways. And because languages didn't differ from one another, the theory went, it made no sense to ask whether linguistic differences led to differences in thinking.

This amused me. It sounded basically like "I say there's no real difference, so why the hell are y'all still researching it?"

Yeah, I know. But I have to make my own fun. :D

Dawnstorm
07-26-2010, 04:07 PM
It depends on which language I'm functioning in. If I'm speaking Japanese or reading Japanese, I think in Japanese as well. Vice versa is also true. I'm not a good code switcher, and this is probably partly why. If I'm speaking a lot of Japanese and thinking in Japanese, it'll actually throw me off to have to speak in English, even though it's my native language. It's weird.

That's me, too. (Except you'll have to substituate English for Japanese, and German for English.) I was once watching British television all day. Then my mum came in and said something. I didn't even hear the words. It was a stream of nonsense syllables. It took me a while to realise that this was German, and I had to ask my mum to repeat what she said.

Similarly, I'm a frightfully slow translater, and I often can't think of even simple equivalents. This confuses people who know I can have fluent conversations in English. They think I just have to cross-index tables or something. X (English) = X (German). But that's not how I translate. I need to drop into a no-language zone to dive for the meaning, and then I need to find a way to express the meaning I come up with in the other language, and the other language is at a disadvantage, because it wasn't made for the purpose of expressing that meaning. It's like trying to hammer a nail into a wall with tongs. It works, but it's not as effecient. If people keep saying things like "But you only have to tell me what X (English) means in German," I can briefly shut down. That is: I function neither in English, nor in German. I blame dictionaries. They give people the wrong idea. ;)

OneWriter
07-26-2010, 06:13 PM
Wow, that truly is an interesting article... Ha, I wonder if it explains why I feel so dumb when I go back to visit my family.... :idea:

Said The Sun
07-26-2010, 06:57 PM
Awesome article.
I have two mother languages; English and Portuguese. I mostly think in English but sometimes I find myself making up words in what I call "Entuguese." Annoying because some words should really exist in English (in my opinion) and don't, and I'm really adamant on using these words which doesn't help at all. The only example I can think of at the moment is "ponderation," I've tried and tried to make this word exist, but alas, Word will call me a jackass every single time, and "ponder" sometimes just doesn't cut it.
Maybe one day I'll be able to master the whole thinking-only-in-one-language, or maybe I'll just write a new dictionary. Just my multilingual prerogative.

kaitie
07-26-2010, 07:09 PM
That's me, too. (Except you'll have to substituate English for Japanese, and German for English.) I was once watching British television all day. Then my mum came in and said something. I didn't even hear the words. It was a stream of nonsense syllables. It took me a while to realise that this was German, and I had to ask my mum to repeat what she said.


One of the weirdest for me was when I was traveling to Tokyo one day and had been reading in Japanese. I went up to the window, all prepared to speak Japanese to explain which ticket I wanted, particularly considering in my area none of the station workers speak English.

I got up there and she asked me a question and it took me three times to figure out that she was asking me in English. Then I managed to switch and did okay, but seriously, the first two times she asked me I had no earthly idea what she was saying. Same thing happens if I'm actively thinking in English too much and then suddenly have to change to Japanese.

OneWriter
07-26-2010, 07:11 PM
Annoying because some words should really exist in English (in my opinion) and don't, and I'm really adamant on using these words which doesn't help at all.


:D That's me. If I could blend English and Italian I'd be the happiest person on Earth. Some words that don't exist in one language, well, they should just be adopted in the other because I do miss them. The funny thing is, English has indeed adopted MANY words from French. A linguistic friend was telling me that English has roughly 80K words whereas most Western European language have roughly 30K (interestingly we tend to us 3K in our every day life). But the problem is that many of those words have changed connotation after their "adoption" and so I still feel that so much is missed... In either language.

backslashbaby
07-26-2010, 08:42 PM
Similarly, I'm a frightfully slow translater, and I often can't think of even simple equivalents. This confuses people who know I can have fluent conversations in English. They think I just have to cross-index tables or something. X (English) = X (German). But that's not how I translate....

Oh, I can't translate fast at all. I don't think of how to put something in English at all as I listen to my other languages. I find that it's hard to put into English because of the available word choices, etc, yes! I'm good at it if I'm just giving the gist quickly, but those UN translators really impress me.

kaitie
07-26-2010, 08:42 PM
Awesome article.
I have two mother languages; English and Portuguese. I mostly think in English but sometimes I find myself making up words in what I call "Entuguese." Annoying because some words should really exist in English (in my opinion) and don't, and I'm really adamant on using these words which doesn't help at all. The only example I can think of at the moment is "ponderation," I've tried and tried to make this word exist, but alas, Word will call me a jackass every single time, and "ponder" sometimes just doesn't cut it.
Maybe one day I'll be able to master the whole thinking-only-in-one-language, or maybe I'll just write a new dictionary. Just my multilingual prerogative.

Oh man, I think all of us foreigners living here pick up certain words because there's just no good equivalent in English. I totally know what you mean. :)

OneWriter
07-26-2010, 08:45 PM
Oh, I can't translate fast at all. I don't think of how to put something in English at all as I listen to my other languages. I find that it's hard to put into English because of the available word choices, etc, yes! I'm good at it if I'm just giving the gist quickly, but those UN translators really impress me.

Truly bilingual people don't translate. That's because they (we) think in each language we use. So why would you translate? People who do it for a job go through hours of training, but in every day life we don't translate.

darkprincealain
07-26-2010, 09:26 PM
I haven't really spoken French for several years, but when I was in my later years of studying it in school, I found I tended to think in it. It just made the language easier to speak, rather than trying to figure out what I wanted to say. The early mental gymnastics is one of the stumbling blocks of learning a foreign language, I think.

Fallen
07-26-2010, 09:45 PM
The only example I can think of at the moment is "ponderation," I've tried and tried to make this word exist, but alas, .

Hah, that's a fantastic word.

And if English speaking scientists can change language to suit their way of thinking, you go ahead STS. You've only gone and done what they do: change a verb (ponder) into a noun form 'ponderation'. So it sounds fine to me :D

Ponderation: a process by where one expresses thought over action: especially noted by the more visual signs of putting ones hand under ones chin tilting head towards the sky and giving a deep sigh...Hmmmmmmm

:D

Nice to meet you, btw;)

Bartholomew
07-26-2010, 10:42 PM
I think in Spanglish. o.O

So much, in fact, that false cognates get me into linguistic trouble.

Molestar, which is similar to to annoy does not equal to molest. And yet, every so often, I'll shout (in English), "Quit molesting me! I'm trying to write."

There are also things I can do in Spanish grammar that I can't do in English grammar. This occasionally leads me to try anyway, leaving me stuttering through a sentence I can't logically complete.

I'm helping a Spanish-speaking friend with an English WIP at the moment, and I was relieved to see him trying the same sorts of things. It assured me that I am not, in fact, insane.

##

I can switch between thinking in English and thinking in Spanish, though. And I do interpret the world differently. And for some reason, I flirt more when I'm in Spanish-mode.

OneWriter
07-26-2010, 10:46 PM
Molestar, which is similar to to annoy does not equal to molest. And yet, every so often, I'll shout (in English), "Quit molesting me! I'm trying to write."



Ha ha ha, where was it that I read "Por favor, que no molesten a los perros" translated into "Please do not molest the dogs".... ????? I can't remember if it was a friend of mine that told me that or if I read it here in another bilingual thread... In any case, it's hilarious. There's so many false friends that can cause serious trouble... My second child was born in Spain and over there they say "pinchar" (informally) when they do the shots... So I was talking to a friend, telling her how the doctor had "pinched" my child, and she frowned and said, "And you didn't yell at the doctor???"
And I still wonder why the first day I went to buy vegetables the lady gaped at me when I said, "Me ocurre un kilo de patatas..." Why, don't potatoes occur to everybody at some point or another???? No???

Sigh. Mi occorre=I need in Italian. :)

Said The Sun
07-26-2010, 11:09 PM
Ponderation: a process by where one expresses thought over action: especially noted by the more visual signs of putting ones hand under ones chin tilting head towards the sky and giving a deep sigh...Hmmmmmmm

:D

Nice to meet you, btw;)


Haha I know right? Usually if the word I'm trying to use is listed in the Urban Dictionary, it's enough of a red flag to discourage me. But I will fight for "ponderation."

Bartholomew
07-26-2010, 11:13 PM
And I still wonder why the first day I went to buy vegetables the lady gaped at me when I said, "Me occurre un kilo de patatas..." Why, don't potatoes occur to everybody at some point or another???? No???

Sigh. Mi occorre=I need in Italian. :)

If she was guessing from a latin root, she may have thought you wanted to kill the potatoes, too.

Said The Sun
07-26-2010, 11:21 PM
Oh! I just remembered two more.
The word "strives." Try as I may I can't bring myself to see this word only as a verb. I've attempted to use it like "the queen of his strives," like the queen of his efforts, get it? I STAY trying to make this a noun. But sadly it never works out for me. And I've realized it isn't just because I'm prone to dumbassness, it's really because in Portuguese you can use it that way.

Another word I'm constantly battling with is "enthuses" I am so sure this could be used like this: "If I thought that by now after all his instructions and enthuses on tennis, I possessed some sort of newly acquired knowledge around the court, I was deplorably mistaken."
In Portuguese it would make sense to use it like this and it would be poetic and pretty. In English it's shit. I literally have "enthuses" used like this a good ten or twelve times in my whole manuscript, and all underlined with the note (EDIT-Try again jackass) Now that I'm on this, what word would you use instead?

It's quite exasperating. *sigh* But it's okay. Really. It's okay.

whimsical rabbit
07-26-2010, 11:56 PM
Okay (gulp) first official post after newbie introduction. Please be kind :)

Although I'm Greek, I've been living in the UK for seven good years now, and I frequently catch myself actually thinking in English. I suppose it has to do with how powerfully and completely the words and phrases themselves express what's in my head. Once a language is sort of 'embedded' in your head, if that makes any sense, it's quite amusing to be able to kind of switch between the two instinctively. I even catch myself exclaiming in Spanish every once in a while- because the sarcasm of such exclamations match both my mood and my kind of love-all-the-sarcasm personality.

OneWriter
07-27-2010, 12:00 AM
:welcome:

Hey, Welcome! And thumbs up for putting Sagan in your signature! :)

I totally understand the language/mood association. I managed to learn very little German (too hard!) but when I'm angry at my kids that handful of words that I still remember comes out SO easily!!! I mean, nothing beats the sound of VERBOTEN!!!!

whimsical rabbit
07-27-2010, 12:31 AM
:welcome:

Hey, Welcome! And thumbs up for putting Sagan in your signature! :)

I totally understand the language/mood association. I managed to learn very little German (too hard!) but when I'm angry at my kids that handful of words that I still remember comes out SO easily!!! I mean, nothing beats the sound of VERBOTEN!!!!

LOL Yeah, that's a good example :D I'm also thinking, shouting abuse in Spanish to unenlightened car drivers or people that jump the queue.

Carl Sagan was and remains one of my favourite human beings. Perhaps my very favourite of all the ones I never got to meet :)

Fallen
07-27-2010, 01:32 AM
This is a fascinating thread. A complete monolingual, I only ever speak/think English (poor English, so I keep getting reminded), so it's fascinating to see how you guys/gals think.

MissMacchiato
07-27-2010, 03:13 AM
I agree with Kaitie, i have experienced this when I was learning italian, and speaking all day in that language, you do click into another part of your brain, if that makes sense, but if I'm speaking english, I'm thinking in english as well.

At first, your brain tries to think in English, and translate what is being said, but you have to just let go and just feel the language, not that that makes any sense, but essentially you can't translate everything back and forth all the time, you have to actually understand it in the language it is spoken in

Margarita Skies
07-27-2010, 03:37 AM
This might sound strange or downright insane, but even though my native language is Spanish, I think in Spanish and then I translate the same thought into English in my mind and sometimes it happens the other way around. I am fluent in English, thank God, because I love speaking both languages. When I am with someone bilingual, I speak to them in both languages, sometimes English and Spanish words mixed into one sentence. :ROFL: I know, it's crazy.

MissMacchiato
07-27-2010, 03:42 AM
Mag - It's not weird.

My flatmate would speak to me in spanish when she was tired sometimes. I'd automatically respond in Italian since I don't speak spanish but the two languages were similar enough that I'd have a rough idea of what she was saying, lol.

mountainannie
07-27-2010, 05:13 AM
I have been living in the Dominican Republic for the last five years and have a certain sort of fluency in Spanish in that I can read the press and make myself understood - but, alas, everyone here wants to learn English so I often function in English.

When I was sick a couple of years ago, I heard the first words from my Spanish persona - a little voice that said "tengo sed. dame agua" (i am thirsty - give me water) - I was like meeting another side of myself that was sweeter, softer, more loving (as indeed Spanish speakers seem to be to me)

French is my second language and I can think in French if I am with French speakers for a time. Since Haiti is French (and Kreyole which still baffles me) speaking, I have opportunities to speak French here. With some close friends, we speak Frangolish - in which we use whatever word comes first. Messy but efficient.

I do find that my personality changes a bit with the language used. Both French and Spanish are more poetic, more flowerly, using more words.

For instance, here - when asked how one is - the answer is always followed by "gracias a dios" which is quite a lovely thing both to hear and remember.

I often say that I am here to learn patience - which in Spanish sounds like "the science of peace"

Liosse de Velishaf
07-27-2010, 08:19 AM
The last time I was learning Spanish was in the fifth grade, but "gracias a dios" is "thanks be to God" or maybe "thank God!"?

A very different sentiment to the one that usually follows the answer to that question in the US. :D

JustLooking
07-27-2010, 02:40 PM
...

I totally understand the language/mood association. I managed to learn very little German (too hard!) but when I'm angry at my kids that handful of words that I still remember comes out SO easily!!! I mean, nothing beats the sound of VERBOTEN!!!!

I had to laugh at this. My kids used to know I really meant it when I told them off in German. But now their German is better than mine they just laugh at me instead.

I'm interested to know from the bi-lingualists here: does it confuse you if someone speaks to you in one of your languages but it's not that person's first language? When my kids were smaller, and growing up bi-lingual, they could be quite baffled if a German spoke to them in English. It was like my children were in German mode (knowing the person they were talking to was German) so suddenly hearing English in that context threw them out of kilter. Whereas hearing English from me was no problem for them at all, even in the midst of that same conversation.

The weird thing is, when they were small they were completely floored and wouldn't be able to answer that person at all. Now they're older they cope better, but if you watch their faces you can almost see how they pause to click a little mental switch before knowing how to answer. That hesitation is not there when they speak to English people in English and to Germans in German.

I've not made a very good job of explaining that but I hope someone will know what I mean :)

OneWriter
07-27-2010, 04:39 PM
My kids did a little bit of that, but this was before they got the concept that English speakers come in all sorts of accents. Now they are quite ok with it. When we go to Italy there's always somebody that will "pretend" they know English and address them with some "Inglese maccheronico" as we call it (macaroni English!)

My parents both speak English very well and even though I tell them to only speak Italian with the kids, they can't resist the temptation as they are fascinated by the fact that their grandkids are bilingual. The funny thing is that my parents learned English in the UK and they both have a strong Italian accent, so you can imagine how different they sound... Neither of my kids has a problem with that. One day my mom asked my son, "Do I sound funny in English?" My son (7) looked up at her and said, very matter-of-factly, "Kinda." We all laughed at that.

backslashbaby
07-27-2010, 09:27 PM
I get Latinos, mostly, not expecting me to speak Spanish. When I'd answer for tech support, and they'd ask for Spanish and I'd reply in Spanish at that point, it took so mnay of them a minute even though I knew my Spanish was darned fine (seriously, it could be the simplest sentence). I couldn't figure that out for the longest time.

It's what y'all are describing. I've seen folks in France do it, too, and I got to see faces. They just have to flip a switch and let it click that I'm speaking their language, lol.

Oh! A little related is when folks aren't sure how well you speak their language, or are just confused at first, so they clam up but expect you to understand better, lol! They might stop using verbs at all, etc. Which gives less and less context, so it's the exact opposite of what I'd like to understand them better (if that's even the problem).

SPMiller
07-27-2010, 09:45 PM
What they claim Chomsky said isn't really what he said.

OneWriter
07-27-2010, 09:53 PM
I get Latinos, mostly, not expecting me to speak Spanish. When I'd answer for tech support, and they'd ask for Spanish and I'd reply in Spanish at that point, it took so mnay of them a minute even though I knew my Spanish was darned fine (seriously, it could be the simplest sentence). I couldn't figure that out for the longest time.

It's what y'all are describing. I've seen folks in France do it, too, and I got to see faces. They just have to flip a switch and let it click that I'm speaking their language, lol.

Oh! A little related is when folks aren't sure how well you speak their language, or are just confused at first, so they clam up but expect you to understand better, lol! They might stop using verbs at all, etc. Which gives less and less context, so it's the exact opposite of what I'd like to understand them better (if that's even the problem).

I totally get what you're saying.
OK, I should be ashamed to post this, but I had exactly that -- the frown that says "Did you just speak my language?" -- in Rome. Yup. OK, in my defense I will say that I was with an American friend. But I must've looked completely American, because we stepped into a bar and the barrista asked me in English, "What would you like, Madam?" I replied in Italian: "Un caffe' e un cappuccino per favore." It wasn't that I replied in Italian. It was that I did not have an accent when he expected me to. My husband still teases me about that.

Yeshanu
07-27-2010, 11:31 PM
What they claim Chomsky said isn't really what he said.

If you could track down what he actually did say???

Articles often misquote, especially if the quote is "common knowledge" so it's helpful to know the real context.

As far as speaking, reading, thinking: I learned French in school, and even took an extra course or two, I was so good at it. I had a French Canadian girlfriend for a time.

I can understand most of what I read. I can understand most of what is spoken. But I can speak and write only basic words and thoughts. So frustrating...

Liosse de Velishaf
07-28-2010, 12:27 AM
What everyone is describing is a very common phenomenon in bilingual language learners, where the brain has trouble keeping the language distinct, so it labels everything a certain person says as one language and everything someone who usually speaks another language as only that language. When the people switch it up, the brain gets very confused. Learners will often "correct" the speaker by repeating what they said in that persons "proper" language. As their language abilities develop more, they can cope better with this problem.

backslashbaby
07-28-2010, 02:46 AM
I totally get what you're saying.
OK, I should be ashamed to post this, but I had exactly that -- the frown that says "Did you just speak my language?" -- in Rome. Yup. OK, in my defense I will say that I was with an American friend. But I must've looked completely American, because we stepped into a bar and the barrista asked me in English, "What would you like, Madam?" I replied in Italian: "Un caffe' e un cappuccino per favore." It wasn't that I replied in Italian. It was that I did not have an accent when he expected me to. My husband still teases me about that.

Hee hee :)

My accents are good, too. My professors were picky. However, I have a French accent in Spanish and German that I never had until I took immersion French, lol ! And a bit of a Spanish accent in French -- Spanish was my first second language.

JustLooking
07-28-2010, 11:44 AM
What everyone is describing is a very common phenomenon in bilingual language learners, where the brain has trouble keeping the language distinct, so it labels everything a certain person says as one language and everything someone who usually speaks another language as only that language. When the people switch it up, the brain gets very confused. Learners will often "correct" the speaker by repeating what they said in that persons "proper" language. As their language abilities develop more, they can cope better with this problem.

Ah, that's interesting. It certainly rings true with what I've observed in my family.

I wouldn't claim to be bilingual but I'm pretty fluent in German by now, and I felt I was really making progress when I experienced a touch of this phenomenon myself. My daughter's English teacher spoke to me in English, which you'd think I ought to expect, but it still threw me and I stammered for a bit before answering in German. Well, we were in school, and school happens in German! It was fun to get a tiny insight into what must have been going on in my kids' minds.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-28-2010, 12:23 PM
Heh. I wish I had that problem. Well, I wouldn't be saying that if I was a child having the problem, but as an adult, I'll indulge in a bit of inappropriate jealousy. ;)

Katrina S. Forest
07-28-2010, 02:49 PM
I agree with Kaitie, i have experienced this when I was learning italian, and speaking all day in that language, you do click into another part of your brain, if that makes sense, but if I'm speaking english, I'm thinking in english as well.

I've had the same experience learning Spanish. English is my first language, and the one I generally think in. But if I've been having a conversation in Spanish, I find it hard to "switch out" to English again immediately. I have to really work at speaking Spanish, so my brain is going a mile a minute, I guess. Then I have to remind it that it doesn't need to work that hard when someone just asked me a question in English.

I'm curious, for people learning a second language, do you ever have dreams in your second language? I've had a couple dreams with a mix of English and Spanish in them. Supposedly this means I'm getting more comfortable with the language.

The_Ink_Goddess
08-04-2010, 08:01 PM
Unfortunately, I can't speak any other language with any fluidity. But I have a friend who speaks several different languages, including English very fluently (although not his first language), and he says he thinks in Icelandic but is so fluent that he doesn't have to go through any "translation" phase in his head before he responds. I am so in awe of him.

_Sian_
08-28-2010, 04:52 PM
I don't know about fluidity, but when I was 15, I lived in a part of Japan that nobody else could speak english in. I was with a host family, so I got no english for about 4 months. My grammar wasn't always correct, and I didn't always know the right words, but I was thinking in Japanese by the end of three months. My brain sort of learned to think around words I didn't know - this, that, the opposite of..., similar too, became my best friends. Which was slightly irritating as when I wasn't translating the English directly, my brain just automatically skirted around the words I didn't know.
What was even more interesting was that when I went to China, I had almost the same thing happen, but my difficulty was never in mixing up my English with my Chinese - it was mixing up my Japanese with my Chinese. I would start of trying to say 我要去公园, but would say 我要公园去。 The first one is the correct Chinese order, the second one has the correct words with the Japanese order. Took me months to correct. Then, when I tried to talk in Japanese, I found myself thinking in Chinese, with Chinese order, and had to think in Chinese, translate that into Japanese, and then speak. English just stayed in it's own little box, never interfering with the other two, while the other two seemed to constantly have it in for each other, and switch and take over at the worse instances.
Rather long post, but weird, no?

Ehab.Ahmed
08-28-2010, 05:58 PM
Wow, so many talents in here. I feel so ashamed that I can only speak Arabic (my native language) and English fluently. Most of the times, I think in English believe it or not. It comes so easily for me. I don't get mixed up when talking to two people with two different languages, I'd cope well. And I don't go through any translation process when speaking in English -- actually, I go through some translation process when thinking in English but wanting to speak in Arabic, lol.

I am learning Japanese, and as a result, I sometimes think in Japanese -- whatever I can muster at the time, lol. But it's so much fun to cuss in Japanese (in my head, of course) when something happens, lol.

SaraP
08-28-2010, 07:55 PM
I can't believe it took me so long to reply to this thread. :)

I do the mental switch thing, but mine is very well oiled and it works rather fast. I think the fact that just about all our tv/movies are subtitled help with that. If I'm watching a show on tv, in english, listening to it with my english mindset, and people are talking to me in portuguese, I get a lot of training switching back and forth between the two languages.

I think a lot in english, I daydream in english, I dream in english and the only time I got general anesthesia, I woke up from it speaking in english. That language is a huge part of my life.

I agree that sometimes you do need words from one language in the other. In my family, we've always done word play and we have a bunch of words that we basically made up because they just convey meaning much better. Sometimes we just do it for fun. One example is the clickator, for the remote control. ;)

I don't know if I think differently when I change language mindsets, though, and that article reminded me of a game I like to play sometimes.

I propose it to you now. :)

I'm going to ask you a question and I want you to know there are NO wrong answers. Whatever your instinct answers, whatever feels true to you, that is the correct answer for you. I will type the explanation in white, so it won't spoil it for anyone, but I would like to know your answers.

Ready? Ok, then:

Imagine time is a river, so that the passing of time is like the flow of the water. You want to see the future. Do you look at the Source of the river or at the Mouth?

Again, remember there are no wrong answers here. Explanation:

Both answers are correct because they both depend on where you, the viewer, place yourself regarding the river.

Most people I've met answer the Mouth, because they place themselves within the river. Because they are flowing along the river, the mouth is their destination, hence their future.

Personally, I answer the Source, because I place myself outside the river. The water headed towards the mouth I have already seen. I look at the source for the new water that will pass me, the future.

It's interesting to me that the answer people choose is dependent on how you think. Although when I was told of this game, I was told Westerners tend to answer one thing and Easterners another, I think this is an example of how many things influence your way of thinking, and there's really no way of knowing how much of that is language, your life, your background, etc.

And that's what makes it all so fascinating, isn't it? :)

Jessianodel
08-28-2010, 08:11 PM
I had a huge argument (discussion-it just got kind of loud) with some of my friends a while back. It started with me thinking that if a child from birth is in an empty room, never having any outside contact, how would they think? Would they develop they're own language or return to primal instinct?

So of course, being that it was in the middle of history class, they all thought I was insane. We began discussing it and the question eventually turned into 'you can't think in a language'. Which of course, you do. But they didn't think so. One of her arguments was "oh so a Spanish person is going to think in Spanish?" to which I responded with duh!.

It just got me mad thinking how someone could think that! Obviously we all think in a language, but no one agreed with me. Maybe I was acting too weird.

But anyway, I'm glad I found this thread so I know I'm not going insane. And seeing as I only speak english, I only think in english.

SaraP
08-28-2010, 08:34 PM
That is quite an interesting perspective of things. I find both idioglossia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idioglossia) (Nell, anyone?) and feral children (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child) fascinating from a child-development POV (though the causes behind many of the cases are horrifying).

Freelancer
08-28-2010, 11:22 PM
Mostly in English and Hungarian (This is my native language). When I write, it's easier to meditate in English as it's hard to translate my language one on one to English due to limits of the English language (A bit more restricted and limited then Hungarian.). When I worked in Spain, I used my restricted Spanish knowledge and in the past I also used my very limited German knowledge in my thoughts when it was required (Same one on one translation problems as Hungarian to English. So it was easier to meditate on the other language.).

Oh, and when I wrote my WIP CSA, sometimes I meditated in Aserian (That the WIP's fictive language). This last was fun. :)

Fullback
08-29-2010, 12:43 AM
I think in Japanese (a second language) when using it and spend the rest of my time being embarrassed at losing my ability to speak coherently in my native English.

Raindrop
08-29-2010, 12:56 AM
I think in English when left to my own devices, and in French when I'm around French people.

Laquesi
09-02-2010, 11:02 PM
I think in Portuguese more often, but when it comes to writing related stuff I tend to think in English.
When I learned English we were taught to think in English, never to translate, but since it's been 11 years since I graduated from English school, it's harder to do that now and I get a little lost. Funny thing though, when I studied French, I constantly switched French words for English words when I didn't know the right French word or when I talked fast. I suppose there is a part of my brain reserved for my mother tongue (Portuguese) and another for my second language and so on. I wouldn't substitute French words for Portuguese words, even thought they are similar languages (both latin).

Stanelle
09-03-2010, 12:20 AM
Partly in English. Partly, in American Sign Language.

I write in English as there is no written form of American Sign Language as American Sign Language is spoken on the hands and is a three demensional language.

I find no shame in expressing meself in American Sign Language when necessary.

Raindrop
09-03-2010, 12:31 AM
I find no shame in expressing meself in American Sign Language when necessary.
Why would you feel shame, anyway?

Think of it. Talking in 3D is way up on the scale of coolness. When you put it that way, it even has a Sci-Fi feel to it.

Drudoo
09-06-2010, 11:47 PM
Im Danish and when i write (always in english) and when i talk (in danish or english) i always think in english =) really strange.

jlasserton
09-07-2010, 02:14 AM
Interesting post! Great article... Mostly I think in English (my mother tongue), although I've been known to dream in Japanese...

cyanz
10-28-2010, 02:49 AM
I can read in French but I haven't been producing (speaking/writing) French for ages so there's not much chance of me thinking in French... I tend to talk to myself in French sometimes though lol. I used to get annoyed writing essays in English because I'd want to use a word in French that was really appropriate and didn't have an English counterpart. Really frustrating. I can touch-type on French keyboards, but I can only write French. If I try to write English it all falls apart :-P There must be some kind of language mode switch in my brain...

Naz
11-01-2010, 02:01 AM
Similarly, I'm a frightfully slow translater, and I often can't think of even simple equivalents. This confuses people who know I can have fluent conversations in English. They think I just have to cross-index tables or something. X (English) = X (German). But that's not how I translate. I need to drop into a no-language zone to dive for the meaning, and then I need to find a way to express the meaning I come up with in the other language, and the other language is at a disadvantage, because it wasn't made for the purpose of expressing that meaning. It's like trying to hammer a nail into a wall with tongs. It works, but it's not as effecient. If people keep saying things like "But you only have to tell me what X (English) means in German," I can briefly shut down. That is: I function neither in English, nor in German. I blame dictionaries. They give people the wrong idea. ;)

That's exactly what I do! I speak Dutch (native language) and English fluently, but I am very bad at translating things. When I think in one language it's very difficult to switch to a different language. And sometimes things only sound right in one language. Heh.

MissJones89
11-01-2010, 06:13 PM
Good question. I usually think in either Danish (because it's my mother tongue) or English (because I study English and because my story is in English).

What I'd like to know is what language you dream in?

SaraP
11-01-2010, 07:44 PM
I dream in both languages - portuguese and english.

Nickie
11-01-2010, 08:36 PM
The first years of my life I only spoke and thought in Flemish (for those who don't know: Flemish is the language spoken in Flanders, and is more or less the same as Dutch). But since I began to read and write in English, I often find that I can think more easily in English. More than once I know perfectly well how something is said in English, while I can't find a Flemish translation. Sometimes my sister and I even speak in English to each other.


Nickie

MissJones89
11-02-2010, 12:40 AM
I dream in both languages - portuguese and english.

At the same time? ;) When do you dream in one? Are there certain situations?

Most of my dreams are in Danish, actually, but it happens once in a while they are in English. When I lived in the US, I started dreaming in English.

SaraP
11-02-2010, 01:09 AM
At the same time? ;)

:roll:

I don't know, really. Dreams are crazy enough for that to happen though. I do know sometimes I wake up and the dream I was having was clearly in english and other times it was clearly in portuguese.

A few months ago I had to go through a medical procedure under general anesthesia and I woke up from it talking in english to the nurse. I had been warned people tend to wake up wonky and disoriented and it did take me a while to realize I was talking in english instead of portuguese. I know I was dreaming in english at the time I woke up. That was when I started paying closer attention to this.

MissJones89
11-02-2010, 12:57 PM
A few months ago I had to go through a medical procedure under general anesthesia and I woke up from it talking in english to the nurse. I had been warned people tend to wake up wonky and disoriented and it did take me a while to realize I was talking in english instead of portuguese. I know I was dreaming in english at the time I woke up. That was when I started paying closer attention to this.

:roll:That's pretty interesting actually!

SaraP
11-02-2010, 01:43 PM
:D

SaraP
11-22-2010, 05:13 AM
Welcome to AW and to the International District, a-vee. :welcome:

DamaNegra
11-22-2010, 07:29 AM
I'm fluent in English and Spanish, the latter being my first language. I think in both.

Mostly, I think in Spanish, but if there's a concept in English that doesn't exist in Spanish, I've no trouble inserting the word into my train of thought, which leads to some interesting Spanglish sentences. Sometimes I'll be talking and stop because I know what I want to say in English, but have no idea how to express it in Spanish, so mostly I just give up and resort to Spanglish, since most people I know understand both languages.

It's not only those languages, though. I integrate every new word I learn into my everyday thinking process regardless of language. That's how I can think of saudade even though I've never learned Portuguese, for example.

It's still annoying, though.

SaraP
11-22-2010, 12:50 PM
We (my family and I) englishify words all the time. Heck, we do it with a few french words too. We call keys cleffas (from the french cleff) and one of my favorite expressions is Portate yourself well (porta-te = behave).

Kristiina
12-01-2010, 10:10 AM
The only languages I'm fluent in are Finnish (that's my native one) and English. I have that switch people here talk about, most times I don't translate, when I use English I think in English.

I mostly have problems is when I don't think in words. Sometimes I do think in pictures, or just feel things, and the problem is that some things are easier to describe in Finnish, some in English. So lets say I picture something that would be easier to say in Finnish, want to write it in English, then I have to start checking for words or try to find some approximate description in English before I can write down something close to what I would want to write. I hope that makes some sense... and that does happen the other way sometimes too. And I do, also, sometimes end up saying things in a funny way in both languages, although a bit more often in English I suppose - like using a Finnish expression but saying it in English. They aren't usually conscious translations, I think that the languages are sort of starting to bleed into each other in my mind. There is also the added problem that during the last ten years I have mostly spoken Finnish, but written English, which can cause some funny problems sometimes.

Kyla Laufreyson
12-01-2010, 08:37 PM
Most of the time I think in English, which is my native language, but sometimes I'll end up thinking in (and unintentionally speaking) German or Japanese, my third and fourth languages respectively (French was second--I barely remember any of it). I'm sure I'll end up thinking in Norwegian at some point.

readlorey
04-29-2011, 09:07 PM
American

kborsden
04-29-2011, 09:31 PM
it depends on what I'm thinking about - but generally I think in English, as I said though, dependant on what it could be Dutch, English or Welsh

readlorey
04-29-2011, 09:39 PM
*gets out world map to find all the countries here and wishes she had paid more attention during geography class...also makes lists of countries to visit*

Stijn Hommes
04-30-2011, 12:45 AM
The way I think depends a lot on the context. When I think about a story, it's usually in English, because that is the language I write in. When I am developing magic, I also think in English. Anthing related to family, I think about in Dutch. Work-related thoughts are a mix since I have to deliver in English, but speak to my collegues in Dutch.

Zelenka
04-30-2011, 12:52 AM
English is my first language so generally I think in that, but languages are my second biggest interest after writing, I'm fluent in French and getting there in Czech, so every now and again I'll find myself thinking in one of those, particularly if I've been working on something in the other language, my brain takes a while to readjust to English. Be interesting to see what happens once I move to the Czech Republic.

Polenth
04-30-2011, 01:38 AM
I had a huge argument (discussion-it just got kind of loud) with some of my friends a while back. It started with me thinking that if a child from birth is in an empty room, never having any outside contact, how would they think? Would they develop they're own language or return to primal instinct?

I think without language when I don't need to express myself. I'd say my no-language thoughts are more layered and complex, but I find it hard to put them into words and show people that. Words make everything flat and simple.

Alone in a room, there's no one to talk to, so no need for words.

PrincessofPersia
04-30-2011, 02:14 AM
Usually English. Occasionally German, and very rarely, French. When I was more well-versed in it, I thought in German fairly frequently, since I spoke it regularly.

M-Bone
04-30-2011, 09:21 PM
I almost have to think on English when I write or speak the language in question, so much different than what I speak as my native. Also after years of practising and turning sentences inside my head, I feel comfortable writing what I’m thinking as it makes the process of writing a lot easier. Still I sometimes tend to express myself too complexly.

MattWalker
04-30-2011, 11:02 PM
Elvish. No question.

;)

SaraP
04-30-2011, 11:04 PM
*high-five*

feeblepizza
05-01-2011, 02:32 AM
I always think in English. I know various snippets of other languages (Spanish and German, mostly) but am definitely not fluent in them.

Alan Yee
05-02-2011, 11:08 AM
English is the only language I'm fluent in. I took three years of Spanish in high school, but I've forgotten a lot of the vocabulary and more complex grammar since I stopped taking the class two years ago.

My dad, on the other hand, is bi-lingual. He was born in Hong Kong, where he spoke Cantonese, but he also learned English since Hong Kong was a British colony at the time. He's lived in the U.S. for over forty years, so he speaks mostly English now, except when he's speaking to my aunt, grandma, other Chinese relatives, or when we're at a Chinese restaurant.

I once asked him which language he thinks in. He said that even after all these years speaking predominantly English, he still thinks in Cantonese much of the time. He says that the reason he's sometimes slow to respond is that sometimes it takes a little for the translation to happen in his head.

Purple Rose
05-02-2011, 04:30 PM
In English most of the time and always when I write. English is my first language. I am also fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and think in Bahasa when i communicate with the locals.

Snitchcat
05-12-2011, 03:12 PM
Thought I'd posted to this thread; apparently not.

I'm not sure which language I think in -- I guess it depends on which one I need to use.

But if I were to examine my thought processes, I'd say simultaneously in English and Chinese (Cantonese) with Mandarin, French and German words thrown in.

Not fluent enough any more in the last two languages to think properly in them. But the other three like to confuse me when I'm not looking. :tongue

RS007
05-16-2011, 06:54 AM
Depends on where I am and who I am with. If I am in a country/with people which/whose language I speak well I start thinking in that language within a month or so.

senka
05-27-2011, 06:29 PM
I know a few languages, and a few of those few fluent, and I don't have a specific language for thinking... I just switch from one to another, depends on the topic. I'm happy I'm not confusing things, but that never happened to me :)

Do some of you who are quite fluent in more than one language get the feeling that you yourself feel very different when speaking (and thinking in) a different language?

I mean, for me it's like... if I think, talk and write in Russian, everything feels much more like... being free with people, kind of cozy, even if you talk to your teacher or to much older people where you use the formal form to address. Being "inside" Russian language it wouldn't feel so very strange to me if, let's say, my boss would clap me on the back and ask me in for afternoon coffee...
Always kinda feels like you're sitting in a little forest cabin with your granny, drinking tea and eating cookies, lol...

Then in German, it's much, MUCH different. The German "Sie" (=formal form to address) feels so different compared to the Russian "Vy". It's like distanced, even clinical to me. I always feel uncomfortable talking to people using "Sie", like you have to be careful what you say, this is a stranger, be polite, behave yourself.
German does a good job for me if I want to sound very formal or very scientific. And I like to use it for sarcasm. Cursing works quite well, although Russian got the better cusswords, cursing in German sounds more serious to me.
Oh, and I love to use it (in case of writing) for stories that take place in the past/in a past-like fantasy-world, and for creepy-horror-like descriptions of things.
The thing I find absolutely impossible in German is to sound... well... cool. I tried to write a modern-time story about young people (not very educated people, I must add) and letting them talk in German sounded just impossibly stupid for me, so I had to switch over to English.

Then English, I don't know why, makes it much more easy for me to talk or write about some things that feel stupid or strange in other languages. I'm not very fond of romantic stuff and if I'd have to write a romantic scene I'd use English rather than German, in German it would just feel so silly and SO nauseating. Or writing about sex in Russian would sound so much more dirty-pornographic for me and in German it would sound just kinky while in English it sounds so harmless! English is just somewhat easy-going.


I've got a more languages and I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore you, I just think that's interesting. Does anyone here know that kind of language-specific feelings?

SaraP
05-28-2011, 01:25 AM
I can understand what you mean. I write in english in part because my own language feels too formal to me. There's no way I could write sex scenes in my language, for example. But I also curse (in my head - I don't curse out loud :tongue) in english, because it just feels right in that language.

bluntforcetrauma
05-28-2011, 02:47 AM
I also curse (in my head - I don't curse out loud :tongue) in english, because it just feels right in that language.

We sure do know how to color that page!

bluntforcetrauma
05-28-2011, 02:58 AM
:D That's me. If I could blend English and Italian.

Yeah I know its an older post. I propose a language called I-tinglish. Betcha someone could write some really snazzy erotica with that!

SaraP
05-28-2011, 03:06 AM
:D

Kelsey
06-01-2011, 05:35 AM
Afrikaans.

JoeBear
06-17-2011, 12:47 AM
I realize that I stumbled across this thread late in the game and maybe it's been put to bed but...I have always wondered about the theme of this thread.
I've always had a great interest in languages of all types - human, other species, and computer-oriented. I suspect that many (not all) of the problems that we encounter are the result of lack of communications (read language) among nations, creeds, cultures, races, species, etc.; therefore, increased proficiency in communications among those elements could very well aid in resolving those conflicts.
After living in Japan for a couple years, I returned to the States and found myself not only thinking in Japanese but answering my mother's questions in Japanese until I caught myself. The reacclimation process lasted about six months. I still, after 4+ decades, find myself thinking, not so much in Japanese, but like their culture which, for whatever reason, I readily felt comfortable with.

I think without language when I don't need to express myself. I'd say my no-language thoughts are more layered and complex, but I find it hard to put them into words and show people that. Words make everything flat and simple.

Alone in a room, there's no one to talk to, so no need for words.Long ago, I came to a conclusion similar to that which Polenth observed above. To wit, thinking without the purpose of communicating takes place at the electrochemical level within the brain, i.e. without a recognizable human language, but thinking at the level where ultimately communications with another is the goal, we tend to subvocalize our thoughts first. THAT is when our thoughts become imbued with language. (Of course, it is arguable that some communicate without thinking first, e.g., politicians, social boors and social bores, etc. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif). Even if I think with the goal of communicating with a word processor, I think in English. To add another dimension, thought at the synaptic level can take place at varying speeds, depending on many factors, speeds that can make language not only cumbersome but impossible.

I take exception to a point in the article noted in the originating post:"Language is a uniquely human gift. When we study language, we are uncovering in part what makes us human..." Observing other species, as well as humans, for many, many, many years, I have no doubt that they also have their languages. Simply because humans don't recognize them doesn't mean they don't exist. Gorillas, chimps, rangs and dophins are no less adept at communicating with us in our contrived systems that we would be with their natural systems. I don't try to discuss Sartre or Socrates with either of my cats but then, I would probably be bored to tears by their choices of topics as well. One of them tells me when his dry food bowl is getting dangerously low, when he wants to go out for a walkabout, when he wants me to go to bed, and other requests, many for which he has designed his own method of communications. I could not argue that language is verbal only since that would disqualify ASL.

Filmfeline
01-06-2012, 08:02 PM
This is a cool question and I love the post right above mine! I think it is very strange that English is my sixth language, but I think in English and it feels like my first. In fact, I even dream in English... I wonder why that is. I've never studied any linguistics or how the language works on our minds, but I know from experience that it is always easier for me to learn two languages at once than just one alone. I usually study a language for 3-5 years and then I move there for six months or so to get the correct native sound. But yes, definitely English for me. I must add, I've heard Shakespeare in many languages, but none make his words sound as beautiful as English.

Filmfeline
01-06-2012, 08:07 PM
I take exception to a point in the article noted in the originating post:"Language is a uniquely human gift. When we study language, we are uncovering in part what makes us human..."

I once read that we are born knowing ALL languages, we eliminate those that we do not use. I wonder if a baby who grows up among 8 people speaking their own language, would actually speak all 8 as an adult. I find that very interesting.

Zelenka
01-06-2012, 08:23 PM
One thing I have noticed, having been in CZ for a while now, I now think in a kind of weird mix of English and Czech sometimes, especially when the Czech word kind of fits more easily or is easier or shorter to say, or is one I use an awful lot, more than I would now use its English translation. Weird effect though is that I quite often now can't think of the English words for things when I talk to my family. It's like there's a door in my brain for the word to come out when I want it, and the Czech one barges out first, blocking the way. Went even weirder the other day whilst I was leading a tour around the castle for a French couple, and the word 'mais' kept disappearing in the middle of my sentences, replaced by the Czech 'ale'. Every time I went to say it. I think maybe my brain is getting a bit fried.

Filmfeline
01-06-2012, 08:38 PM
One thing I have noticed, having been in CZ for a while now, I now think in a kind of weird mix of English and Czech sometimes, especially when the Czech word kind of fits more easily or is easier or shorter to say, or is one I use an awful lot, more than I would now use its English translation. Weird effect though is that I quite often now can't think of the English words for things when I talk to my family. It's like there's a door in my brain for the word to come out when I want it, and the Czech one barges out first, blocking the way. Went even weirder the other day whilst I was leading a tour around the castle for a French couple, and the word 'mais' kept disappearing in the middle of my sentences, replaced by the Czech 'ale'. Every time I went to say it. I think maybe my brain is getting a bit fried.

LOL that's funny. ( sranda )

Archerbird
01-06-2012, 10:26 PM
Both English and Norwegian, and I don't think in a different way in English than Norwegian. It's the same thing, only different words.

(That means I usually sputter nonsense in Norwegian too).

J.S.F.
01-07-2012, 02:07 AM
Think in English, Japanese (talking to my family and friends, and watching TV) and occasially, Spanish. As English is my first language, it's only natural. Japanese is fun to speak and I need it for my everyday life but it's too indirect and I need my thoughts to come out directly!

MartinV
01-07-2012, 02:21 AM
When I think about writing or am writing, I will think in English. When thinking about mundane things, I will think in my native language Slovene.

Veroontjexx
01-07-2012, 02:42 PM
In my everyday life I think in Dutch and when I read/watch a movie/write I think in English... Although I should mention I mix them up sometimes. (Mostly because I don't remember the correct word in Dutch.)

K.J. Abby
01-11-2012, 12:32 PM
Most of the time, I think in English, even if my 1st language is Danish. Even if I speak, read, write Danish, English is on my mind constantly :)

totopink
01-12-2012, 06:34 AM
Up until the age of about five I can just about remember thinking fluently in two languages but as I went to school the English took over. Now I can now longer speak my Dad's native language and English has completely taken over.

logan9a
01-12-2012, 11:57 AM
OP: Perhaps a better initial question would have been 'if you are absolutely fluent in two or more languages, which language do you think in'. Reading a lot of responses of people saying "Well, I think in English but am not fluent in any other languages" just makes my head hurt.

I speak English fluently. I can speak conversationally in a couple other languages but guess which language I usually think in. Mind you, if a lot of people are sitting around speaking say German, I may think in German but my writing is in English. I have noticed that words from other languages I know some words from slip into the mix. See wiki on 'code switching' for that interesting phenomena.

dancing-drama
01-13-2012, 02:42 AM
Well, I'm fluent in English, German and almost fluent in French. Mostly my thoughts are German, as I am constantly surrounded by it but when I read a book in English or surf online on English sites my thoughts tend to switch to English.
In my everyday life I caught an English or French word slipping in quite often. Who knows how often I dont catch it?!
What I think of as quite interesting is that when I think english, my thoughts have the accent of the city in the UK where I've lived for some time...

ianuschristius
01-13-2012, 09:22 PM
Mostly in croatian. But when in inspiration mode, sometimes other languages come to my mind; like english, italian, french or spanish. It all depends on the situation that I'm in.

And no, i'm not a polyglot; even do I can say more then just a few words from some languages.

Melhael
01-28-2012, 05:43 PM
French is my first language, but which language I use to think greatly depends on what I'm thinking about. I may be wrong (I'll have to pay more attention in the future), but I'm under the impression that I use French to think about mundane, everyday stuff. English is for everything fiction-related and day-dreaming.

To me, English is the language of movies, TV shows, and books. French is the language I use to shop for groceriesóbecause I have to.

And now, this topic has got me wondering in which language I dream. :)

D.F. Jules
02-16-2012, 10:41 AM
I'm Indonesian but I think in English. And I write in English.

I think it's because I learned reading and writing in English before I learned both in Indonesian. I mean, that makes sense, right?

I bet all of us here has often experience that awkward moment when you can't remember a word in our native language but can remember it in English.

onuilmar
02-22-2012, 10:52 PM
Estonian is my first language. But as I was born in the US, I learned English in school and that is my primary language.

And since there are few Estonians around, I rarely practice it. However, when I stayed with my son in an Estonian camp two years ago, I had the most marvelous experience as most knew both languages. It was interesting to discover how many memories were trapped in Estonian and were only recovered when I was speaking Estonian.

And yes, I mostly think in English, but understanding Estonian is effortless. Production is a bit harder.

However, I am quite capable of carrying on a bilingual conversation, and I find that like Dawnstorm I too drop into a zone filled just with meaning and not segregated into words. And I have no problem responding instantaneously.

mfarraday
02-22-2012, 11:35 PM
i think in English.

but i often dream in Japanese.

kborsden
02-23-2012, 03:52 AM
I tend to think creatively in English, negatively in Dutch--and interchangeably depending on the situation beyond that, sometimes both languages at once. Beyond that, whichever I'm speaking at the time I will generally also be thinking in... if I weren't I would be translating in my head.

Stig
02-24-2012, 11:42 PM
I usually think in my native language Finnish, but I can think in English when situation calls for it or just for fun. Actually I'm thinking in English right now.

I can't really say anything about my dreams since I hardly ever remember them.

rhetoric by rosalie
02-28-2012, 10:01 AM
I think in English but curse in Quebecois. It's more fun and nobody around here knows what I'm saying.:D

Sea Witch
02-28-2012, 12:14 PM
English is my first language, but I'm fluent in French and lived in France for a number of years.

I don't have the occasion to speak a lot of French anymore, so I mostly think in English. However, very often I think of a French expression for something (that usually doesn't translate very well), and I'll say it in French and then search my head for something comparable in English for others to understand.

If I'm with French speakers I'll think in French. When I lived there I could watch a movie, and then when it was over I didn't know which language I'd watched it in. Funny how the mind works....

Salt
03-03-2012, 05:37 AM
I think in English but occasionally I dream in Klingon

Night_Writer
03-03-2012, 11:08 AM
I think in English but I cook in Italian. But seriously...........

I think 90 percent of the time in English and the rest in Italian. I learned Italian first, but living in the USA, I learned English better, so I consider Italian to be my first language, but English to be my primary language, if that makes sense.

J.S.F.
03-03-2012, 01:07 PM
English first, as it's my native language, but since I live in Japan and my wife is Japanese, I often lapse into Nihongo without really thinking about it. I sometimes have dreams in Japanese as well, and occasionally in French (which I sucked at in junior high, by the way).

TheBladeRoden
03-03-2012, 02:01 PM
What language to deaf people think in?

SaraP
03-03-2012, 05:21 PM
Language is so much more than the sound of the spoken word. Not being deaf myself, I would simply think they think in whatever language is taught them, much as with anyone else.

slashedkaze
03-06-2012, 02:13 PM
I think in whatever language I need at that time. When I'm at university, I think in German because people around me converse in that language. When I think about my novel, I think in English. When I post / read on here, I think in English. When I talk to Japanese friends, I think in Japanese.

Sometimes I'll think in one language and use single words of other languages because the word has a nuance to it that is lacking in its 'translation' in the other language. When I speak to friends who speak all the same languages I do, we often mix languages up like that without batting an eye. :)

Last year I attended an international study programme in Japan and a lot of us European attendees used English to converse among ourselves. After a while I started speaking English to the other German girl who was there as well until one of us would notice that we could use our mother tongue.

CinthiaX
03-10-2012, 01:16 AM
I've been living in Germany for 10 years now and have started alternating brain activity in English and german. Caught myself dreaming in german the other day. Was an eye opener:)

Deizelcore
03-10-2012, 01:41 AM
English (which is extremely inconvenient, because I have to "translate" my thoughts whenever I have to talk to anybody).

slashedkaze
03-13-2012, 11:07 PM
I've been living in Germany for 10 years now and have started alternating brain activity in English and german. Caught myself dreaming in german the other day. Was an eye opener:)

That's so cool isn't it? I once had a dream in Japanese. With large white English subtitles. Made complete sense at the time :)

Lexxie
03-17-2012, 12:42 AM
I think in different languages based on the situation I'm in, or the people I'm with. And I usually have no trouble switching from one language to the other, or translate from one to the other if someone else needs help.

Norwegian is my first language, and I still speak it everyday, although I live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I use both English and French every day in university.

I have noticed that my dreams can change languages too, and if I have a dream about my mom, and we speak French in my dream, I wake up completely confused, because she can't speak any French in RL.

wanzulfikri
03-24-2012, 05:12 AM
I am a Malaysian but I think in English. I love the English language because it is more expressive compared to Malay.

I only think in Malay when I pray because I feel closer to Him if I think in Malay.

Debio
03-24-2012, 11:42 AM
It really depends on what I'm thinking about. If it is work related stuff, paperwork and the like, it's Japanese, if it is work related like my class material, then it is English, since that is what I'm teaching.

At home, it is the same, it depends.

It will also depend on the goal of the thinking. If I need efficient, quick, decision making, then English, but if I am just daydreaming to organize thoughts so that my story works better, that is also English, but anything else is subject to the situation.

I frequently forget what language I am thinking or speaking and speak the wrong one to someone. Somewhere I remember that I have to switch for this person, but because I have forgotten my current language state, switching it sometimes backfires.

EmmersonGrant
03-28-2012, 06:07 AM
Most of the times I think in Spanish, but I've had great conversations with myself in English.

LegioSolitaire
03-28-2012, 01:41 PM
Thinking either in Swedish or English, usually depending on the language I'm currently reading, writing or talking at the moment. And if you get too used to one for a long period of time and have to suddenly switch, it can definitely be jarring.

toecollector
04-09-2012, 10:10 PM
English, even though my parents aren't originally from England but I grew up here so..

WackAMole
04-09-2012, 10:27 PM
Been living in Sweden for four years now. Everyone always says that you know that you really know a language when you dream in it. So for four years I have waited and waited to have that dream. I finally had it. I woke up happy :D

I think in English but i am finding that the longer I am here, the more natural it becomes to think in Swedish, after all its all around me! Naturally, there are some things in Sweden that just can't really be directly translated. For example:

Fika - haha love this word. Basically it means you get to sit and have sweet rolls and coffee with your buddies! There is no real direct translation so..for me its natural to think it also

My most favorite word of all - Lagom - this word basically is used to describe something thats 'just right' - swedes live by this word! LOL

My biggest downfall to learning this language has been my efforts to try and directly translate everything in my head to English. Once i stopped doing this, it got much easier. Swedes tend to recognize my accent and start to try to talk english to me and this really throws me off sometimes!

The Illusionist
04-14-2012, 07:36 PM
Oh god, I saw this thread title and thought = my life.

I grew up trilingual so have always had to switch around a lot. When I was really small, like 4-5 I sometimes refused to though! My mom would talk to me in German and I understood her perfectly but always answered in Spanish, since I knew she spoke Spanish too. But with my German grandma I knew she didn't speak Spanish so her I answered in German.

English for me has surprisingly became my main language though, considering it is a foreign language for my parents so with them I only speak Spanish/German. But most of my school time was in English, I am now studying in English and have spent a lot of time in the US/UK so it's my go-to language when I'm on my own and especially when writing.

But since I'm now in Spain + have had that Spanish boyfriend for over a year AND still have so many German friends + my parents I talk to every week I have to constantly switch.

It's fine though, with the switching part I don't have that big a problem. I was actually in a German school in the States for two years and there everyone spoke Denglish, it was mixed English and German, no one sentence was completely in one language!

I do have that inventing words thing though, especially putting English words into German, which my friends always laugh at me for :P

With French though, which I learned in school, it is more of a conscious decision though. I can think in it but I have to be first like "okay, now I'm going to think in French" which I don't do very often.

Okay, end of long ramble about my life that no one cares about, hahah! :)

SaraP
04-14-2012, 08:17 PM
It's a cool mix though. :)

I worked with a client once who was chinese, with a portuguese boyfriend, english being the common tongue. Their kid was going to grow up with a great language combo. :)

Zelenka
04-15-2012, 04:41 AM
I'm in France right now, but as I've said, I'm British living in the Czech Republic. It's so odd - I speak fairly decent French (used to be fluent but have lost a lot) but now when I'm trying to speak, little Czech words keep wanting to slip in, and today I looked a right muppet mid conversation when the French just refused to come out of my brain and all my replies came out in Czech, even though I'm thinking in French! Now if only I could get Czech to come out when I'm in the Czech Republic... But it's fascinating how the brain works with these things.

Paul
04-15-2012, 04:52 AM
Oompa Loompa mostly. Sometimes Newspeak

The Illusionist
04-16-2012, 08:28 PM
I just re-read my post and realized how incredibly pretentious it sounds! I apologize, when languages or living in/moving to countries comes up I get overly excited and want to share everything I know = sounding pretentious.

But thank you Sara for not rolling your eyes ;) And I have to say you are an incredible thread starter! 90% of the threads where the topic has made me go "Uuuuuhh, fun/helpful/interesting etc." turned out to be started by you! I would leave you a reputation comment but seeing as you have already reached to highest level of awesomeness (and being a newbie am not sure if I'm even allowed to comment) I will just express my appreciation here :)

Okay, now I'm going to stop sucking up and let sensible people continue this forum discussion.

Or funny people like Paul:


Oompa Loompa mostly. Sometimes Newspeak

Now that really is the opposite of pretentious ;)

rhetoric by rosalie
04-17-2012, 08:05 AM
@Illusionist - I didn't think you were pretentious, I just thought you were well versed.:)

The Illusionist
04-17-2012, 03:28 PM
Thank you Rosalie :)

Shirokirie
04-17-2012, 04:03 PM
I'm anglish-speaking born and raised. But my significant other is German, bred, born, raised, the whole shabaz.

So... I've adopted thinking in cat.

PulpDogg
04-18-2012, 05:53 PM
It varies - but I catch myself alot thinking in English, whereas German is my mothertongue. Mostly depends on my reading, movie watching or social life at that moment.

Camilla Delvalle
05-06-2012, 02:49 AM
Mostly Swedish, English, and German.

SaraP
05-06-2012, 03:08 AM
But thank you Sara for not rolling your eyes ;) And I have to say you are an incredible thread starter! 90% of the threads where the topic has made me go "Uuuuuhh, fun/helpful/interesting etc." turned out to be started by you! I would leave you a reputation comment but seeing as you have already reached to highest level of awesomeness (and being a newbie am not sure if I'm even allowed to comment) I will just express my appreciation here :)

Awwww, thank you! Real life has had me quite busy and I haven't had the time to be around as much as I would like to (hence my only reading this now), but your words are very much appreciated.

Also, you're always free to give someone more reps, regardless of their level. So, rep away. :D

Daniel.Trujillo.D
05-06-2012, 03:37 AM
I mostly think in English when I'm alone, although my native language is Spanish. I think this is because I lived in the US for seven years as a child (all of elementary school and kindergarten). When I'm speaking with someone, I generally switch my thinking to whatever language they're speaking (either English or Spanish; haven't learned quite enough German to think it fluently, much less speak it).

That article is quite interesting. It makes me think about whether translated novels are ever able to capture the atmosphere incidentally created in the original language. I also can't help but gain higher admiration for the translators who do a good job.

Still, it's always been my dream to learn many languages so I can read the classics straight from the author's written work. My list includes finishing German, learning French, Russian, Latin and maybe Italian or Portuguese. I should probably get moving on this...

Lycoplax
05-06-2012, 04:35 AM
English is my native language. I took Japanese for my foreign language credit in college, (Because everybody else was taking Spanish or French or Sign Language, I decided to pick something different) and had so much fun with it, I stuck with the program for three years.

I try to think in Japanese from time to time to keep in practice, and I find that I've had dreams in Japanese on rare occasion.

SaraP
05-06-2012, 04:42 AM
If you know Spanish, Portuguese is but a step away, French is two steps with Italian in the middle. :)

SeriousScholar
05-09-2012, 08:47 PM
It took me about a year to start thinking and dreaming in Spanish when I was living abroad. You really have to live the language though. I was living with local families, studying, volunteering, hanging out with the locals, etc. If you spend your time in hostals with other tourists, you'll have a great time, but you won't develop your language quite as quickly or perhaps much at all. They're certainly both fun ways to travel abroad though.

Also in the article you linked I can relate to the point about how the sense of blame seems to change. I do speak Spanish very well, and you notice little things as you go. I remember when I first saw that you saw "the vase breaks itself" (or informally we might say "the vase broke on me." Not literally on top of me, but an informal way of saying that I broke it but softening the self-blame). There are other things too, such as telling past stories with present-tense dialogue. Very interesting. I'm sure every language has a bunch of little idiosyncrasies like this. Maybe someday will move onto another one! Lots of fun to learn them!

AnneMayfair
05-19-2012, 10:32 PM
I guess my mind is messed up because 40% of the time I speak and think on Russian (my mother tongue), 50% English and 10% Hebrew (language I'm studying right now)...

Raventongue
05-19-2012, 10:55 PM
English (my first language) almost entirely now.

Well, embarrassingly dramatic English that most of my peers have a hard time taking seriously. I can understand terms like "man-crush", for example, but it's more natural for me to say "affinity".


If you know Spanish, Portuguese is but a step away, French is two steps with Italian in the middle. :)

I got about 60% of the way to fluency in Spanish before I stopped having to use it and it started decaying. And with 60% I was able to communicate pretty decently with monolingual Portuguese folks over chat in an MMORPG.

So yeah, evidence that you're likely quite right.

Ginger Writer
05-20-2012, 03:45 AM
I'm only fluent in English, but I will occasionally think in Italian or Spanish, especially if I'm tired, and it'll take me a minute to realize it.

LAgrunion
05-20-2012, 05:37 PM
I grew up in Taiwan until age nine, then moved to the U.S. I'm 40 and my only fluent language now is English so I think in English. I dream mostly in English. However, when I think multiplication of numbers in my head (e.g. 5x3=15), I still think in Chinese. I guess it's because I learned the multiplication tables that way and never retrained myself.

Artifex
05-20-2012, 09:55 PM
I switch (thinking, speaking and writing) between Finnish and English everyday, sometimes quite rapidly and frequently. I do a lot of code switching. On occasion, I find Swedish creeping into my thoughts, too - and it's more than welcome, as I want to learn to speak Swedish better. :)

Al Stevens
05-20-2012, 10:20 PM
I think in C++.

miseh
05-25-2012, 02:39 PM
hmm when i grew up i went to normal (living in germany, german-)school in the morning and twice a week to greek school in the afternoons. my mum would speak german, my dad greek (or horrible german) but mostly i spoke german.
so i started normal school english in grade 5 i think and got into online gaming.. which kind of forced me to learn more english, as everyone spoke english. adding to that i had 5 years of french in school, which didn't stick at all. no idea why but i remember NOTHING.

when i met one of my ex boyfriends (who was from the uk) i would travel there a lot and my english got better.

now i'm married (not to the same guy) and i live in canada. the english speaking side. i would have offended every french speaking person i think :P
my husband is first nation. so some of his family members speak blackfoot... which i want to learn.

i took japanese classes as well but at some point my brain just said STOP. too much. i kept mixing up words and it got really confusing.

the language was actually a huge issue for me when i started writing. for the longest time i couldn't decide on the language i wanted to write in.
in the end english came out as the winner. mostly because i speak and hear and write it every day and i didn't have to 'switch' my brain to different language mode just for writing.

reading all the other posts i was a bit surprised though. when i think about the languages i know, it's always about how they feel.

greek feels completely different from german or english. it feels warm and liquid. german feels cold but precise. english feels open and relaxed.

it's hard to describe but for me every language i know has it's own emotions/tastes/moods/feelings.

Artifex
05-27-2012, 02:23 PM
the language was actually a huge issue for me when i started writing. for the longest time i couldn't decide on the language i wanted to write in.

Why don't you write in different languages? That's what I do. I write in English and in Finnish. I spend time in both California and Finland, sometimes months at a time in one place (more in California nowadays though). I like having that connection to both of the languages regardless of in which country I am.



reading all the other posts i was a bit surprised though. when i think about the languages i know, it's always about how they feel.

greek feels completely different from german or english. it feels warm and liquid. german feels cold but precise. english feels open and relaxed.

it's hard to describe but for me every language i know has it's own emotions/tastes/moods/feelings.

That's an interesting thought. I've never really thought about different languages feeling different, but I guess in a way they do. One manifestation of it could be how certain ideas are easier to express in one language than the other.

Robbert
05-27-2012, 02:51 PM
I'm German born and bred. After completing my education in 1988, I left for good. My two grown-up children are servants of Her Majesty. I think, dream, (sometimes) swear in English. My German is a little rusty and sports a British accent into the bargain.

miseh
05-27-2012, 03:55 PM
Why don't you write in different languages? That's what I do. I write in English and in Finnish. I spend time in both California and Finland, sometimes months at a time in one place (more in California nowadays though). I like having that connection to both of the languages regardless of in which country I am.


the idea is actually pretty good. i never even thought of just doing both. maybe i'm just scared of mixing things up again. just now i was working on a part of the text and couldn't think of the damn word for cloud. i mean obviously i figured out it's cloud now but i sat there for five minutes thinking 'wolke wolke WOLKE' (cloud in german). and i was too proud to just look it up :P

but honestly, i should just do it when i catch myself obsessing with my story too much. thanks for the idea ! :)

lambauman
05-28-2012, 03:20 AM
What I learned in Chinese, I think in Chinese. (That why I still do math in Chinese and translate the answer into English.) The rest, English.

Have spend 20+ years in the US, most of it married to my white-bread American husband, I have found that it is survival necessity to be fluent and English, but thinking and speaking. After all, my husband and I fight a lot. I have to think fast in English if I want to win any argument with him. ^_-

Artifex
05-28-2012, 11:59 AM
the idea is actually pretty good. i never even thought of just doing both. maybe i'm just scared of mixing things up again. just now i was working on a part of the text and couldn't think of the damn word for cloud. i mean obviously i figured out it's cloud now but i sat there for five minutes thinking 'wolke wolke WOLKE' (cloud in german). and i was too proud to just look it up :P


I have lost my pride ages ago. :) I frequently look up words in the dictionary; sometimes I can only remember the Finnish word or expression and I need the English one and sometimes vice versa. Of course sometimes I can't really find what I want, because some expressions just don't feel the same in the other language... but then again, other times I end up finding something better than what I had in mind. It's a good thing though that I have a digital dictionary, otherwise I'd probably need to buy a new one every few months. :)

Noirblanche
06-02-2012, 04:27 AM
This thread is quite interesting to me, and I am happy it has surfaced again or I would have probably missed it altogether.

I am Italian born and raised, but spent the best part of the last few years in English speaking countries.
Thing is, now that I am back in Italy, I still retain English in my mind. I think a lot in English, and dream it too.
When I write I mix English and Italian words... I just type down whichever word comes first (no time to spare in trying to remember the right word in the Other language!). But the drafts are mostly in English anyway, not in Italian. Reviewing and editing also means translating the text in Italian so that other people around here can read it :P
When I started learning English I just found it a perfect language for me, and I don't know why. It has become so much a part of me, that sometimes I consider it my first language of choice.

Then there is the problem that when I am speaking English to an Italian I have the most trouble, because I know they don't speak it as well as I do and I find it difficult to speak slowly... I come out with a horrible Italian accent, which I usually don't have while speaking English with English people!
I also have the same thing that happens to other posters happen to me: sometimes the best way of saying something is in the language I am not speaking at the moment, and that can be problematic. Another thing I have found is that sometimes they ask me to translate an English word in Italian and I have to clue of the Italian word (and I do know the meaning of the word, in both languages!), and it takes me ages to fluff around with synonims and descriptions until we figure it out.

Sorry for the long post!

Stijn Hommes
06-02-2012, 07:51 PM
It depends, I think my everyday thoughts in Dutch (since I've been born in the Netherlands and lived there all my life), but if I'm thinking about anything writing-related or something related to my online activities, I think in English. I also watch the occasional television program in German or Flemish and even though some of them are dubbed in Dutch, I can't stop myself from thinking in the original language of the program when thinking about that program comes up.

epublishabook
06-04-2012, 12:28 AM
I was born French speaking and only learnt English after hitting 22, yet now I think, dream and write in English though I live in Israel and spend most working days in Hebrew.
for me the difference between French and English can be summarized as follows: "in English, all that is not forbidden is permitted whereas in French, all that is not permitted is forbidden." This means that writing has to be inEnglish as my thoughts in French are constrained by the arbitrary requirements of the Academy.
Hebrew is a much better language for working as it is a straight to the point language, where efficiency lies in maximized use of the grammatical rules to convey nuances with minimum quantity of words.
I guess my cultural roots in "verbose" French means I am still biased in favor of using the appropriate word rather than resorting to grammatical construction, at least for literary purposes, but Hebrew is by far more efficient when it comes to getting things done, so now I clean and cook in Hebrew.

KymmInBarcelona
06-13-2012, 03:17 AM
I always answer this question in the same way, but find that very few people agree with my theory, or even believe me.
I don't think in language; I think thoughts. When I want to express or share those thoughts, I must choose a language, so my thoughts are expressed in English or Spanish according to the listener. Once in a while I stumble for a word in either language, although I know in my head what I want to say, so I will reach for the closest word, be it in Spanish or English and then, if I need to, will translate it.

The more I think about this, the more I know it to be true.

BillWobbleSword
06-13-2012, 07:53 PM
Born in Canada, lived 12 years in Polska as a young adult before deciding to move back. I think mainly in English, but I've found myself ordering meals in restaurants in Polish, and some phrases/words just don't work in English (and vice versa), so there's often some stumbling.

To complicate matters, my new novel is written in English and set in Poland and featuring exclusively Polish characters. I've "anglocized" some of the names and place names for American readers, and now I'm hearing from Poles that I "got the names wrong." (Heavy sigh)

www.stevenowad.com (http://www.stevenowad.com)

Andreas
07-01-2012, 11:44 PM
Ran across this (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html?m od=WSJ_newsreel_lifeStyle) article today. Unfortunately, I don't fluently speak any language other than English, and can read only French and English, so I've never had the chance to experience any of the phenomena mentioned. It does make me want to learn another language, just to understand more viscerally what he's talking about though.


Well, I think mostly in German (upwards of 75%), but also in English.

And it does make sense that your language influences the way you experience the world.

For instance, there is a difference between "Soul" and "Spirit", although both seem to are mistaken for one another often.

However, Germany doesn't have this difference. For us, "Spirit" either means "Soul" outright or "Geist" (usually meaning "Mind", sometimes "Ghost")

But knowing the English language empowered me to differentiate between "Souls" and "Spirits". So yeah, different languages really do shape the way we experience reality.

Allana
07-03-2012, 05:59 AM
I was born in England and (like many English it seems) I struggle with other languages and feel shy trying to speak in any language but English in case I make a fool of myself. But now I am living in Spain I have had to overcome my initial reticence and speak in a language I know I am not pronouncing very well!

My children speak Spanish at school and a lot of the time at home (and my husband doesn't talk that much :)), so I have now got to the stage where I can go for days and hardly speak English at all. So I do often think in Spanish, but it's my particular version of Spanish - no one else's :)

ShortStoryZ
07-05-2012, 09:51 PM
I definitely think in English, but my wife, who is Finnish, started to think in English after living in Scotland for a few years. She remembers when it started happening. Kind a cool.

Susanna
01-03-2013, 11:18 PM
Sometimes I find myself thinking in English and other times in Arabic (my mother tongue). I don't write Arabic stories, and so when I'm musing over a story I'm writing (or am planning to write), I always think in English. If I'm thinking of something that I saw/heard that was in English, then I think about it in English. When I feel creative and am thinking up new ideas for something, it's in English. Mentally revising for a test? English, because I take all my subjects in English (except Arabic, of course!). However! When I'm very angry at someone or something I usually think in Arabic, mainly because we have some of the most, ah, phenomenal curse words known to humanity. :D

So for me, it depends. But most of the time I think it's safe to say I think in English.

Sunflowerrei
01-04-2013, 12:54 AM
I think most of the time in English, since it's the language I speak, write, and definitely read better. But I think in Japanese, too, usually if I've been speaking in Japanese (or, my brand of Japanese, which isn't standard but Kyushu-ben) recently. But then sometimes, there's an idiomatic expression that we don't have in English and it'll just pop in my head.

Eibhy
01-18-2013, 08:21 PM
for me the difference between French and English can be summarized as follows: "in English, all that is not forbidden is permitted whereas in French, all that is not permitted is forbidden." This means that writing has to be inEnglish as my thoughts in French are constrained by the arbitrary requirements of the Academy.

Wow.
I'm French, living in Ireland and I also write in English. I've always found writing in English was a lot less limiting than in French, but you've just explained to me exactly why. I'll remember that quote!

henmatth
01-28-2013, 11:01 AM
Interesting question. I speak (more or less) 5 languages. I find often that my thoughts are abstract. Let's say... I think maths?

Elenma
01-28-2013, 11:12 AM
I'm a German native speaker and live in Germany, but I read, write, watch shows and movies, talk to my friends in English. I'm pretty sure that by now I think in English more often than I do in German. I mostly think in German when I'm talking to people in German or am surrounded by people speaking German. But even in situations like that it's happened that I've decided to write journal entries in German and then switched to English after half a page without even noticing.

For some reason (well, multiple personal reasons) it's much easier for me to express my emotions in English which is why I am a much better writer when I write in English.

Unlike some here, I definitely think in words, not abstract thoughts or feelings. I have sentences in my head and I can almost see them, too. So I know for sure that I am thinking in one language or the other. And sometimes they get mixed up a little, which is when I'll say something bizarre and I get weird looks that confuse me until I realize I applied English grammar to my German sentence or something. ;)

amy--amy
01-28-2013, 12:30 PM
Well, I live in the Netherlands, so I usually speak Dutch. But I'm fluent in English, I lived there for a bit and I always write in English, so I could probably say that I think in English most of the time.

However, I study French, so these days my thoughts are becoming more and more French.

I had to take a beginner's course in linguistics, which also discussed the phenomena of your language influencing the way you think. It reminded me of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, in which words are taken out of the dictionary to make sure people can't think rebellious thoughts. I'm not sure that actually works in real life.

Susan Anwin
02-07-2013, 08:04 AM
Hungarian sometimes slipping into English, the same way my first draft is a mix of the 2