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The pros and cons of being bilingual



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  #1  
Old November 15th, 2008, 8:51 am
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The pros and cons of being bilingual

Have you ever accidentally used words in another language during a normal conversation, because you can't remember how to say them in your mother tongue?

Do you feel all limited when you have to write a paper in a single language?

Did you read Harry Potter in more than one language, just to see what the translation was like?

Lets face it, being billingual rocks. Come here to share any anecdotes related to growing up speaking more than one language, or how being billingual affects your life right this very second!

Personally, I've spoken Spanish and English for as long as I can remember. I dunno, it's just a part of me, looking at everything and knowing it has more than one name. I can barely go through a conversation in Spanish without saying something in English, and vice versa. Spanglish is a part of my life, sigh. I'm currently trying to write a novel in Spanish, and I feel like I'm not allowed to use half the expressions and names I know. But it's so cool to notice mistakes in the subtitles of my favorite TV shows lol.


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Old November 15th, 2008, 4:24 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I speak Urdu, and English, but Im learning French. Sometimes when Im speaking to my friends (In English) Ill accidently say something in Urdu, and then Ill have to explain what I said, and then theyll ask me hunderds of other questions.


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Old November 15th, 2008, 7:21 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I'm not bilingual exactly but I know what you guys are feeling. My family came from Germany over a 100 years ago and even to this day in our household we have hundreds of little sayings in German that we shoot back and forth to each other that sometimes without even thinking about it I'll mutter to my friends or when Im talking to myself with people nearby. Of course there are always questions and the sad thing of it is, I dont know the literal translation of half of them! I just know the context.


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Old November 15th, 2008, 8:28 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

Quote:
Originally Posted by FGG View Post
Have you ever accidentally used words in another language during a normal conversation, because you can't remember how to say them in your mother tongue?

Do you feel all limited when you have to write a paper in a single language?

Did you read Harry Potter in more than one language, just to see what the translation was like?

Lets face it, being billingual rocks. Come here to share any anecdotes related to growing up speaking more than one language, or how being billingual affects your life right this very second!

Personally, I've spoken Spanish and English for as long as I can remember. I dunno, it's just a part of me, looking at everything and knowing it has more than one name. I can barely go through a conversation in Spanish without saying something in English, and vice versa. Spanglish is a part of my life, sigh. I'm currently trying to write a novel in Spanish, and I feel like I'm not allowed to use half the expressions and names I know. But it's so cool to notice mistakes in the subtitles of my favorite TV shows lol.
No, but definitely the other way around My German teacher hates me for it


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Old November 15th, 2008, 10:04 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I speak German, English, and Spanish, and will be majoring in French.

Spanish most definitely comes in handy in Texas, as so many people around here are Hispanic. Most of the time though whenever I want say something in Spanish, I'll catch myself thinking in German, and sometimes I'll actually end up speaking German.

And although English is my main language in the US, I often find myself thinking in German. I also use little German words and phrases on a daily basis. (Heiss, when something is hot, or Ach du lieber Gott just as a random exclamation.)

Being bilingual is definitely interesting and a big plus in life today!


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Old November 15th, 2008, 10:50 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

Sometimes I speak 3 languages at the same time. German, English and a Transylvanian dialect. Latter one is my mother tongue and I always mix a lot of German words into it. My family is not amused of course, or actually they make fun of it. And after spending a couple of months in an English speaking country, was I mixing in English as well. This sounds like this: "Ich hun vor next Woch hiken zu gehen".

While being abroad was it difficult to pronounce things in the correct way, as there are a lot of German words that mean the same and are written in a similar way but are pronounced different. Sometimes people weren't able to understand me as I said the things in the wrong way. Also like gipro said, it was easier to think in German and then talk in English.

I think kids should be brought up at least bilingual, and with the current school system they do. English is taught in the kindergarten now and later you learn at least 1 more language, when you want to.

There is no real con for being bilingual. Just imagine if a lot of people didn't learn English as second or third language. We all wouldn't be able to communicate.

Have you ever accidentally used words in another language during a normal conversation, because you can't remember how to say them in your mother tongue?
This happens all day long, like said above. There were moments were I didn't know what "contract" is in German or how to translate "whale watching". Or with writing letters. It is easier for me to write business letters in English as there are some good phrases you can use every time.

Did you read Harry Potter in more than one language, just to see what the translation was like?
I read most of them in German and English, but not to see what the translation is like. Ehmm I think I bought them in English to be able to discuss them here.


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Old November 15th, 2008, 11:02 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Tenshi View Post

I think kids should be brought up at least bilingual, and with the current school system they do. English is taught in the kindergarten now and later you learn at least 1 more language, when you want to.

I wish the system was that good in the US. I've always been jealous of my cousin (who lives in Germany) as he has taken English since primary school, and started Latin at age 10. I was 13 before I was finally able to start a second (in my case third) language, and then the only option was Spanish.

My mom also didn't take the oppurtunity to raise my siblings to be bilingual. I'm the only one that speaks fluent German. (Or any German at all for that matter.) I plan on speaking in German to my kids from the moment they are born.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenshi View Post
Did you read Harry Potter in more than one language, just to see what the translation was like?
I read most of them in German and English, but not to see what the translation is like. Ehmm I think I bought them in English to be able to discuss them here.
I would love to read the German versions, but haven't been able to get my hands on them.


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Old November 15th, 2008, 11:19 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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My mom also didn't take the oppurtunity to raise my siblings to be bilingual. I'm the only one that speaks fluent German. (Or any German at all for that matter.) I plan on speaking in German to my kids from the moment they are born.
It's almost the same with my cousins here. Except 3 of us were all born in Germany and my sister and I are the only ones from the youngest who can speak Transylvanian fluently. But the others are kinda raised with the language too as we speak it all day and they understand it. They just can't speak it perfectly, although some try it.

But you know what's the worst thing of all? When your parents who "accidently" speak Romanian as well, use this language to keep secrets from you. I feel like learning it without them knowing it to be able to eavesdrop on them.


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Old November 15th, 2008, 11:32 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I can't really claim to be bilingual, as I grew up speaking only one language (English) and I still don't speak any other languages very well (although I understand Polish and used to be able to speak it not totally incompetently when I lived there. I can also read French, but can't speak it or understand spoken French at all)

When I lived in Poland, I ended up speaking a weird kind of Polglish. Friends would come out from the UK to visit me and find it hilarious, because I'd use Polish structures/literal translations of Polish phrases in English without noticing (e.g. "Coffee without caffeine" instead of "Decaff", "Obviously" instead of "of course") or just say really odd things that don't exist in either language (e.g. "bicyclists"). Even now, more than ten years after returning to the UK, I'll sometimes find I think of the Polish word for something I want to talk about before I think of the English word, although it's happening less and less.

I'd love to be properly bilingual. My best friend speaks three languages to native standard and several others competently, and I really envy him.

Did you read Harry Potter in more than one language, just to see what the translation was like?

Actually, it was the other way round for me. I bought GoF in Polish because I wanted to practise my Polish (having seen the first 3 films and hated them, so I'd never bothered reading any of the books in English), and that was how I got addicted to reading HP.


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Old November 16th, 2008, 12:55 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

Norwegian is my mother tounge, but in Norway we learn English from the day we start at school (6 years old). Of course, they start with the colours, count to ten, my name is and so on,but it gets more advanced the older we get. In Norway, we have a ten-year compulsory school, and when we leave after 10th grade many speaks and writes English as good as or almost as good as Norwegian. In 8th grade we can choose between French, German and, in some schools (including mine), Spanish, or learning English better. Thus I speak Norwegian fluent, and my English is pretty good too (compared to my classmates). My last English teacher said I was better than him. . And I understand German pretty well, but I don't write or speak it very good.

Have you ever accidentally used words in another language during a normal conversation, because you can't remember how to say them in your mother tongue?
Yes, I have. Especially å discussere. It is a mix of the English to discuss and the Norwegian å diskutere, which means the same thing, but I say both at once and it sounds really weird. Most people understand it, but they ask me "What did you say?" or rather, in Norwegian, "Hva sa du?" anyways, and I use to pretend I didn't say anything weird.

Do you feel all limited when you have to write a paper in a single language?
No, but sometimes, mostly when I write Norwegian, I know I could make a beauitiful sentence in English, but I have no idea on how I can make a good Norwegian sentence out of it. It's pretty frustrating.
And sometimes, mostly when I write here on CoS, I know how to say it in Norwegian - which I can't, because it's only the few Norwegians and some of the Swedish who can understand it - but I can't translate it to English without using really bad grammar, or maybe I don't even know what the words I need are. That's really frustrating, too. (Is frustrating a proper English word, by the way, or am I making it up from Norwgian? )

Did you read Harry Potter in more than one language, just to see what the translation was like?
Just after the summer when HBP came out, my Hp obsessed friends persuaded me to start reading Harry Potter. I had a Norwegian translation of the first book, and I had owned it many years (I won it in a lottery) without reading it. I did. And bought the second book. Read it. Got the third, the fourth and the fifth for my 12. birthday (late September), all in Norwegian. What I didn't know (yet, because I celebrated my birthday before the actual day), was that my parents had bought me HBP in English. And because I couldn't wait until November (the 21., I think), when the Norwegian translation came, I started reading the English one. I read it a few times before I was sure I understood most of it, and started getting the other five books in English. And when HBP finally came in Norwegian, I read it both to see how the translation was, and to understand the bits I didn't understand when I read in English.
When DH came, I bought it in English, and when the translation came I bought it too, just because I wanted to know how it was translated and because I wanted my HP book collection to be complete both in Norwegian and English. Plus, I had translated all the chapter headings, and wanted to see if they where correct. Most of them was, actually, exept for a few, and those which meant the same, but had other words. E.g. Kreacher's Tale and The Prince's Tale, where I had translated tale with fortelling, but the translator had used historie. They mean the same thing, only I meant fortelling fitted best there, but the translator meant otherwise. ( I still mean I was right and he was wrong.)

My future plans is marrying and English-speaking man, and he will talk English to our children and I will speak Norwegian. (If I marry a Norwegian guy, I will speak English to my children from the first day, so they'll learn English pretty soon anyways.) I will also teach them German, and maybe some other language I speak fluent in the future (which is pretty many, according to my Languages-I-Want-To-Learn-List), so when they leave 10th grade they'll speak at least three languages fluent. I think it's good to know more than one or two languages.


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Old November 16th, 2008, 3:30 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

Oh, yes! I understand exactly what you mean
I go to an English school in Germany, and everyone there speaks "Dinglish" (a mixture of "Deutsch" (German) and "English"). I've got a really weird habit of taking English verbs when I'm talking in German and conjugate them like in German And when I'm talking to my classmates in the bus or train we regularly change languages in mid-sentence, which earns us quite a lot of funny looks from the other people!
And that works just fine when I'm at school or at home (my mother used to live in England). But when I'm talking to my other friends who go to normal German schools I really have to make an effort not to speak Dinglish all the time!
And often, when I'm writing in German, I think I could make such a nice, easy sentence in English, only to be forced to use a horrible, complicated German one instead

I sort of love being bilingual though. I only wish I could speak a more unusual language (I really like Scandinavic languages for example). My friend is trilingual - her mother's from England, her father's from Romania and she lives in Germany - and I really envy her!


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Old November 16th, 2008, 4:24 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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And often, when I'm writing in German, I think I could make such a nice, easy sentence in English, only to be forced to use a horrible, complicated German one instead.
I hear you. While writing in German I actually often feel close to just take an English sentence now. On the one hand I think the clear structure of English sentences helped me out to get some things written down straighter even in German, on the other hand I sometimes do horrible constructions, which never should have been written down. There are little spelling mistakes in my German, which definitely are coming from using English daily for three years now.

I learned Swedish at uni. People often say Scandinavian languages are way difficult, but for the basics I think it's rather easy. If you get a chance, give it a try. Knowing English and German definitely helps.


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Old November 16th, 2008, 4:51 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I speak Icelandic, Danish and English fluently... and sometimes I just can't remember how to say some word in Icelandic (which is my mother tongue) but I know how to say it in Danish or even French! That's kinda silly... well, I'm learning three more languages at school so I'm learning/speaking six languages altogether and I get really confused... especially when I'm supposed to translate from English (my text books are in English, not Icelandic) to Greek I always start translating it to Latin instead:P Silly...

But there is one thing, I can't mix Danish and English together. If I am supposed to talk danish to one person and English to another then I'll get so confused that I can't speak at all... also if I say just one word or street name with danish accent then I find it very difficult to start speaking English again. It's like two blocks which I can't switch so easily between.

I've read the potter books in English, Danish and Icelandic and I've to say that the translations are not so good... equally bad actually... so I prefer reading it in English because I can. But I read Potter in Danish when I was younger to make sure I wouldn't forget it:P


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Old November 16th, 2008, 4:54 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I'm truly bilingual because I grew up in an English speaking household in a Spanish speaking country. The only disadvantage I find is that I'm very likely to revert to Spanglish when given half the chance. To purists, Spanglish is an abomination, but I find it easy to mix the best out of both languages. Since I also speak German and have children who don't speak it, I swear mostly in German at home. My daughter usually calmly explains to her friends when she has them over... "don't worry, it's just my dad swearing in German". It's great having a Geheimsprache.


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Old November 16th, 2008, 7:30 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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(Is frustrating a proper English word, by the way, or am I making it up from Norwgian? )
"frustrating" is English


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Old November 16th, 2008, 8:25 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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"frustrating" is English
Thanks. Sometimes I start to wonder if some words is proper English, because I often make up English-sounding Norwegian words and believe they're English... And the other way around. Being bilingual is hard sometimes.


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Old November 16th, 2008, 10:48 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I had a friend in high school who wasn't bilingual, but she was taking both Spanish & German in the same year (and where I went to school in Iowa, they don't start you on any foreign languages until 8th or 9th grade)... and she kept getting everything mixed up so that her homework for her Spanish & German classes ended up coming out as something between Spanglish and Alemañol!


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Old November 16th, 2008, 11:37 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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I had a friend in high school who wasn't bilingual, but she was taking both Spanish & German in the same year (and where I went to school in Iowa, they don't start you on any foreign languages until 8th or 9th grade)... and she kept getting everything mixed up so that her homework for her Spanish & German classes ended up coming out as something between Spanglish and Alemañol!
Nice!


I found that being able to speak German really helped me in my Spanish pronounciation, and I have managed to develop a pretty good Spanish accent. (People always ask where in Mexico I come from. ) Occasionally, I would start saying somehting in German instead of Spanish during class. One time in 8th grade, we had to recite the alphabet in front of the whole class, and it is really similar to the German alphabet. I was fine until the 'T', and I finished it off in German. The class got a good laugh out of that.


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Old November 17th, 2008, 12:50 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Nice!


I found that being able to speak German really helped me in my Spanish pronounciation, and I have managed to develop a pretty good Spanish accent.
I mentioned this on the German language thread. I also found the reverse to be true, that speaking Spanish helped me with the German pronunciation. I don't know if they are just being nice, but native German speakers always complement me on my German pronunciation because it has no regional accent and is very Hochdeutsch. I attribute this to the fact that I use a Spanish pronunciation of vowels and consonants whenever possible.

I sure the more languages you speak the easier learning others become. I'm, pretty sure I could learn Portuguese and Italian very easily since at least 25% of them is very close to Spanish.


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Old November 18th, 2008, 5:14 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

English is my first language. I'm studying Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Irish and Esperanto right now, and I can attest to how mixed they can become at times. The only one that I'm fluent in is Italian (I've been studying it for four years), but I'm getting there with Spanish, and my French accent is good, despite my lack of grammar. Usually, for me, I end up just speaking Italian half-way through a sentence in any of the other languages.

For example, my Spanish teacher asked me, "¿Qué hiciste ayer?" (Span: "What did you do yesterday?") and I responded, "Ayer, descansé. Pues, yo bajé a la cocina però mi famiglia no estaba allí. Cuando arrivó a casa, nosotros hicimos cena." ("Yesterday, I rested. Then, I went down to the kitchen but my family wasn't there. When they arrive home, we had dinner.")


The bolded parts are the Italian-influenced parts. Even though "pero" and "però" (meaningly "but" and "however," respectively) are very similar, I was thinking of the Italian one). Likewise, "familia" (Spanish) and "famiglia" (Italian) are pronounced almost identically, but I knew I was thinking of the Italian word. "Arrivó" comes from the Italian verb for "to arrive": arrivare; the Spanish word is llegar. And "hicimos cena," while Spanish, is an Italianism, as far as I know.


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