Here are a few language related questions I get asked over and over:
What language are you most comfortable speaking?
That depends on where I live and what language I speak most at any given time. I grew up speaking German and French, but after living four years in America and two years in England, I felt much more comfortable in English. I think that with languages it can be like with people, sometimes it just clicks. Linguistic chemistry, I guess.
Generally speaking though, I’m most comfortable speaking a mixture because uttering one sentence in one language sometimes requires effort and there are certain phrases that aren’t really translatable and just work better in a specific language. I feel like I can express myself most accurately when I can throw them all together. I often wonder what role language plays in forming our sense of identity?
What language do you think in?
Growing up I thought in German and French. Then, when I was 15 or so, I spent a few weeks in England and caught myself counting in English in my head. Felt like a turning point. After spending four years in California, I thought only in English. Then I spent four months in Peru and started thinking in a mixture of English and Spanish, but that didn’t last long. At the moment I have a mixture of English and German swirling around my head. So I guess the answer is: it changes.
What language do you dream in?
The first person to ask me this was a student of mine in Barcelona, Spain and I didn’t know how to answer because I’d never actually thought about it. I think I mostly remember images and emotions, not the language. I’ll remember the meaning of what was said, scenarios, story lines and impressions but I’m fuzzy on the dialogue. Here’s an interesting article on the subject.
What about you?