Two Different Languages

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by mephistopheles, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. mephistopheles

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    This is for the people that speak two different languages fluently, and who use the two languages about the same; as far as time goes.
    (this might be a stretch)

    I knew a girl who spoke spanish and english. She spoke english at work, but spoke spanish at home. And I always kind of wondered, what langauge did she think in?

    Were her thoughts in English or spanish?

    What do you think?
     
  2. Ethyl

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    Hard to say. An ex who spent a year in Germany said he was thinking in German in a few months. My boss was born in Italy and raised in Argentina, knows four languages and speaks Italian to his oldest children and Spanish to the rest of his family members. When he's angry, he curses in Spanish and Italian. I should ask him but i've always assumed he thinks in Spanish. Good question.
     
  3. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    In my opinion you are not really fluent in a language unless you can think in that language. In other words, an English-speaking person cannot be fluent in speaking Spanish until he's able to think in Spanish.

    It means that you don't have to stop to mentally interpret from one language to another.
     
  4. Gillette

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    Does profanity count?
    I sometimes find myself thinking fluent Tourettes.
     
  5. ClaireTalon

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    If I master it, I think in the regional language.

    Besides English (native, obviously), I am pretty fluent in French. However, when I am in France, I still think in English, unless I'm in a conversation. Then, my thinking is in French too, mostly because the conversation is difficult if you translate and re-translate every thought.
     
  6. dong20

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    I'm about the same, but in Spanish. If I don't use it for ages, which sadly is very common then I go into mental translation mode and it slows things down . As I get back into it I will usually find myself thinking in Spanish.

    Odd, but it's so unconscious that I often don't 'notice' until such time I need to speak English and then suddenly have to do that mental translation thing but this time from Spanish into English. It's just for a moment or two before the native brain kicks back in. but it's a bit spooky when it happens.:smile:

    I have seldom been at that level in other languages since I was at school, though I can get by.
     
  7. Andresito

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    I always think in spanish, because of the raising I guess.

    I think that you know that you're thinking in another language when you can understand or produce humor in the foreign language.

    Buuu, I hate using "that" so many times...
     
  8. Ethyl

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    This morning I asked my boss about it and he said he thinks in English since he speaks it almost exclusively here unless he's talking with family members. When he returns to Argentina, he switches to thinking in Spanish.
     
  9. Spoogesicle

    Spoogesicle New Member

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    When speaking French, I think in French. When speaking Greek, I think in Greek. When speaking English, I think in English. When thinking to myself rather than speaking, it really doesn't matter what language I use as long as I can understand myself.
     
  10. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto New Member

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    Don't do it then. You can usually get by without it.
     
  11. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto New Member

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    Cute. Interesting too.

    I've met a few people who got moved around from culture to culture while they were acquiring language skills and as far as I could tell, didn't speak any language fluently. I had this same question. I wondered what language or symbology they used in thought.

    I suppose this is one of the reasons that education is helpful and also why learning languages has a salutary effect on intelligence. Also the ability to acquire cultural knowledge in multiple modalities.
     
  12. aethwy

    aethwy New Member

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    I'm fluent in Welsh and English and I think in a mixture of the two, sometimes whole thought patterns can alternate from one languge to the other. I guess it depends on the situation. I don't really notice which language I think in until someone asks what language do you think in?
     
  13. D_alex8

    D_alex8 Member

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    I would agree that one's thinking is situational; it's pointless to be addressing a specifically German context with English thoughts, or an Arabic context in German. The sections of my brain relating to each are quite neatly sectioned off, and translation/interpreting are most definitely skills that I have had to work at acquiring; the kind of crossover required by these activities between different sections of my brain is palpable, and feels like 'work' rather than a 'natural flow'.

    Dreaming might also be worth considering in terms of being akin to the articulation of subconscious thinking; and my dreams certainly drift linguistically and contextually between German, English, and Arabic at different times.
     
  14. Lordpendragon

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    I have a great friend who is an academic linguist and she says the same.
     
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