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Author Topic: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?  (Read 1783 times)

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Offline JagaanTopic starter

Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« on: August 13, 2010, 07:12:49 AM »
So I wanted to ask anyone who knows a few languages whether this happens to them. Sometimes , when speaking a sentence in English , I will unknowingly , speak a few words from another one or two languages. This get me loads of confused looks.

Also do you forget the definition of simple words sometimes , in whatever language ? Even though English is my First(Kind off) language. The other day , I forgot optimist and pessimist meant (Example). And I'm pretty sure I knew the definition a few years back. ( I know it now)

Maybe my brain is overloading with too many languages ? ...Or I have a brain leak :P
« Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 07:14:26 AM by Jagaan »

Offline Brandon

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2010, 07:25:54 AM »
Ive been known to talk in Japanese, Arabic, or Russian by accident from time to time. I think everyone goes through that once in awhile

As to forgetting definitions, Ive never forgotten them but there have been occasions where explaining a definition becomes impossible outside of examples

Offline JagaanTopic starter

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2010, 07:47:47 AM »
I guess it's normal then ...it never used to happen before. ( And nice .. I learned some Arabic last year)

Offline Arhys

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2010, 07:53:51 AM »
This happens to me too, fairly frequently actually, and it's usually pretty funny when it does.  It's quite normal, words will get stuck and I'll have an Italian word in my head, then dig deeper and there's German before I get to English.  Sometimes there is a concept and word in a foreign language I enjoy so much I continue using it because nothing else quite seems to fit, and many of my friends enjoy playing with languages so we'll invent different combinations of words from languages, use them in our group and then it's hard to not say it--a highly selective group slang.  This group met in Asia and had some travels in Africa, so we'll combine Chinese, Thai, and Korean with Swahili and Khoisan words a lot as well.

I've had to teach people some foreign words, cell phone in German is Handy for example, which is quite a handy thing indeed.  My parents know that now because I use Handy even in English, it comes out before thinking and I struggle between American cell phone and British mobile.  I've picked up a lot of British words and expressions since I've lived abroad so long and spell check/programs are set for British English in Europe, so cosy not cozy, "in hospital" not "in the hospital", realise not realize etc.

I also usually pick up on little mistakes foreigners make in English when it's really cute, using a word that is slightly wrong but highly creative is delightful.  It's fascinating to see this develop in multilingual children as well.

Words are wonderful things.

Offline JagaanTopic starter

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2010, 08:11:52 AM »
This happens to me too, fairly frequently actually, and it's usually pretty funny when it does.  It's quite normal, words will get stuck and I'll have an Italian word in my head, then dig deeper and there's German before I get to English.  Sometimes there is a concept and word in a foreign language I enjoy so much I continue using it because nothing else quite seems to fit, and many of my friends enjoy playing with languages so we'll invent different combinations of words from languages, use them in our group and then it's hard to not say it--a highly selective group slang.  This group met in Asia and had some travels in Africa, so we'll combine Chinese, Thai, and Korean with Swahili and Khoisan words a lot as well.

I've had to teach people some foreign words, cell phone in German is Handy for example, which is quite a handy thing indeed.  My parents know that now because I use Handy even in English, it comes out before thinking and I struggle between American cell phone and British mobile.  I've picked up a lot of British words and expressions since I've lived abroad so long and spell check/programs are set for British English in Europe, so cosy not cozy, "in hospital" not "in the hospital", realise not realize etc.

I also usually pick up on little mistakes foreigners make in English when it's really cute, using a word that is slightly wrong but highly creative is delightful.  It's fascinating to see this develop in multilingual children as well.

Words are wonderful things.

Tell me about it :P One moment I'm saying something in English , then the description turns to french , Farsi or even Punjabi. I remember after I lived in Austria for a while , I started using the German word Verboodten  ( Forgive the spelling ..) , which I think means forbidden or restricted.
In some cases you should be careful , as a word in one language could sounds like an insult in another. :P

After living abroad most my life , I've become somewhat used to British spellings and such.
Thanks for your reply.

Offline Brandon

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2010, 09:10:31 AM »
I guess it's normal then ...it never used to happen before. ( And nice .. I learned some Arabic last year)

Its funny when it happens for me because Im as white as an albino snowman. So I get some very odd looks when I say anything in Arabic.

Offline Arhys

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2010, 10:13:33 AM »
My favorite along those lines in Italian is dai..meaning "come on" as encouragement or disbelief, like "come on, you're not serious are you?"  But given that one says it with feeling, it's like "Die!!!" in English which cracks me up.

And ooh Farsi, would love to learn that.  And I make a mean Punjabi style chicken curry...I'll be doing some food blogging here too and will pm you with links to recipes so you can let me your opinion on them and make corrections or suggestions.

Offline Lilias

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2010, 10:21:11 AM »
I revert to Greek when I'm distracted or exhausted. See, I still think in Greek and it takes a moment of conscious flipping the switch to 'on' to speak in English.

Offline JagaanTopic starter

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2010, 10:30:12 AM »


@ Lilias:I get that ...just in my case ..its more then one language :)

@Arhys: I bet ...It's pretty fun saying it! *Keeps saying dai , much to the annoyance of my dog*
Awesome ! Looking forward to it , nothing beats that kinda Chicken ! This really is a mufti-cultural forum ! Most my friends here thought Punjabi was an animal or something! Food Blogging ! Can't for that :)

@Brandon:  :D Im kinda in the middle ( colour wise) , so for me , I guess they expect anything !


Offline Oniya

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2010, 11:03:02 AM »
I'm not bilingual, although I do have a fascination with languages (and especially those outside the Germanic and Romance trees).  From what I've been seeing, the latest 'trend' in adult language learning is the concept of 'thinking in a new language', by teaching the language as if learning to speak for the first time - with pictures of objects and actions.  I'm not sure how they depict more abstract concepts, as they never show those on the infomercials.  :D

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2010, 11:35:17 AM »
Totally happens to me. More like if I want to say something in Spanish or French, English keeps popping at the top of my head.

And I so forget words. The other day I couldn't recall the word TEMPORARY; that feeling you know you have it on the tip of your tongue, but you can't really grasp, grrr.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2010, 12:02:33 PM »
My favorite along those lines in Italian is dai..meaning "come on" as encouragement or disbelief, like "come on, you're not serious are you?"  But given that one says it with feeling, it's like "Die!!!" in English which cracks me up.
To make it even funnier for you, the same word also means "give me this" in Bulgarian >:)!

Offline Arhys

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2010, 12:30:17 PM »
Ha ha... Dai Thufir!! 

You know, you don't even need to be fluent for this to happen, my Italian was always extremely situational and rough, not to mention half Spanish :p but sometimes the Italian is the first to come to mind.  I had surgery while there and so my entire medical vocabulary on some things is Italian, coming back to Germany my first appointment here I was filling the dr. in on things and had to laugh.

And Oniya, yes, images are used in language learning because they use a different part of the brain than text, so it is like having two links to the same word.  There's a lot of focus on situational learning, communication task oriented approaches.  Situation:  angry customer complaint letter, communication skills: apologizing, disagreeing, making an offer.  In a nutshell the biggest problem I have with some language teaching theory is adult learners of languages don't have a whole childhood/lifetime to spend picking it up, nor are they immersed in it for the required years.  But anyway...

Offline Trieste

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2010, 01:13:40 PM »
Yes. This absolutely happens all the time, although for me I'm more likely to switch words in French and Spanish since they're very close to each other and they are my second and third languages. It's usually very small, very similar words (like el libro and le livre) and nothing more major than that.

I also tend to adopt things. There is not really an expression in English for the sentiment expressed by "quel dommage!" in French. The closest we have is maybe "that's a shame" but it seems to insincere to me... anyway, yeah.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2010, 02:36:28 PM »
Never really happens to me, not in speech. But I often think in English, which is not my first language.

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2010, 03:28:57 PM »
I sometimes dream in English. Which is still weird as it's not my mother tongue either. :)

Offline JagaanTopic starter

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2010, 04:38:14 PM »
I feel normal :)

Today I said the name of a new hypermarket to my mom , via phone. She burst out laughing ...turns out it means balls in her native tongue. Everyday ...: P

Offline Oniya

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2010, 05:11:18 PM »
That's like the old story (don't know how true it is) of why certain Chevys don't sell well in Spanish speaking countries:  no va means 'It doesn't go.'

Offline JagaanTopic starter

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2010, 05:40:14 PM »
Haha , I head the same thing With the Mitsubishi "Pajero"  ( Which means jerk off in some language)

Offline Host of Seraphim

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2010, 06:57:30 PM »
I'm by no means bilingual, but I took German in school for around 3.5 years. Sometimes I find myself speaking in German without thinking-- especially in questions! Last week, my dad woke me up from a nap. Still half-asleep, I mumbled "Wie spt ist es?" My dad didn't understand what I had said, and I hadn't realized that I wasn't speaking English-- combined with my half-awake confusion, it was pretty surreal!   ::)

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2010, 08:17:30 PM »
Ha ha... Dai Thufir!! 
I'm serious, if that was in Italian :P.
If you want me to give you something, tell me what >:)!
And I just hope you are not using the English meaning ;D!

Offline Chevalier des Poissons

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2010, 08:21:54 PM »
It happens to everyone. My professor and I are versed in several languages, and we often confuse the words. One talking to each other = hours of conversation just to say "good morning".

Offline Saerrael

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2010, 08:58:38 PM »
I have this all the time >.> When speaking in Dutch I have English words slip through when I'm not careful. Sometimes I have to dig rather deep into my 'first' language to find the correct word.

Offline Malina

Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2010, 10:06:12 AM »
I'm not bilingual, nor truly fluent in any foreign languages, and yet it happens to me, mostly with English words slipping into my German. French, too (strangely, hardly ever Latin, though that's my first foreign language), yes, even languages I never learned beyond a few terms of polite greeting etc., and inquiring after this and that, have left me with expressions I so like, find so utterly fitting for a specific something, they'll never find a replacement that could challenge their position. So, I experience the same phenomenon Arhys described (which I think all have in common who are/were in contact with more than one language) - it's a love for precision, we want to express something that, at least in specific nuances, only exists in one language, so, it pops up first in that one, and often slips out, too.

Truly interesting it gets if a bunch of animatedly talking people from different countries come together, who all know one or more languages reasonably well they have in common with at least one or two others present. Brilliant chaos. Add to it all the accents and dialects, and - wow! *beams* Nearly as fun, people having only two languages in common they're quite fluent in, now you'll hear them blend and weave these languages together. It's very interesting to observe when and why they switch between languages, too.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Bilingual People! Does this happen to you?
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2010, 10:26:19 AM »
Mr. Oniya took Latin in high school.  He's told me of situations where he, some of the French students and some of the Spanish students were at the lunch table and carrying on conversations and understanding each other - reasonably well.