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The pros and cons of being bilingual



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  #41  
Old February 19th, 2009, 3:17 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I swear mainly in English. I know a few swear-words from German, which were learned from my dad, but I don't use them very often. Dad swears mostly in English, but once in a while he'll swear in German. Not sure about my grandparents (as they usually avoided swearing in front of the kids)... But it was actually my dad's great-grandparents that were the immigrants on his side of the family, so you can see how long the German held out


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  #42  
Old February 19th, 2009, 9:56 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

Wow... that's amazing, actually, that German survived for that long in your family.



Looking at Zara's comments on writing..... it's odd for me. There is a certain style of writing (academic writing) which I have mostly done in English, although I really made the switch into living in English when I was 24. I find it difficult to imagine myself writing many things in German these days..... I couldn't do forums like this in german, for example. The Internet has always been in English for me - 'internet German' (which exists) is a complete mystery to me, hard to bear and impossible to produce.


I was very surprised when, last year, I suddenly had to write an article in German: it actually worked well. I think it doesn't quite sound like academic German, because I consciously allow myself to avoid the deliberately complicated German academics like to use in order to enhance their credentials (but I did that before I left, too). I have been told, however, that the style was good to read and sounded just right: I find it harder to judge now, although I still read a good deal of German regularly.

The funniest thing was when I gave my paper in German - they tell me that while I obviously sound like a native speaker, my intonation sounds English. I adopt a particular intonation in English to make a talk easy to follow (something people here in the UK tend to do), and it looks as if that habit has actually seeped over into my native language.





And for me dreams are usually not in any language. There are very few times when I notice which language is used.... I remember the first dream I had in English because it featured my parents speaking fluent English (which is impossible: my parents don't speak any English): it was so weird that I woke up.

Based on anecdotal evidence (knowing many foreigners who have moved to the UK) that people tend to start dreaming in a new language they have just started to 'live in' after about 2 months or thereabouts. Most people notice it around that time, at least.


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  #43  
Old February 19th, 2009, 6:38 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Klio View Post
Wow... that's amazing, actually, that German survived for that long in your family.
Yes... Though, they were in Wisconsin, so they were in good company. (Lots of Germans came to Wisconsin in the 19th & early 20th centuries.)

edit

I just remembered something. My dad's got this story about how... I think it was my grandfather (but it could have been my dad's grandfather)... apparently used to always say "make out the lights" instead of "turn out the lights", which according to my dad was a direct/literal translation of the corresponding German phrase.


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  #44  
Old February 22nd, 2009, 10:38 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

i honestly see no cons of being bilingual . i'm fluent in Spanish && i think it's VERY useful . i mean , it's never been of hinderance to me . maybe i'm just well practiced at balancing the languages ?


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  #45  
Old March 1st, 2009, 7:59 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Klio View Post
Ohhh.... there is something else that's intriguing to me....

Are there any specific things you do in one specific language?
As it is my native language, and the only language I'm really good at, I usually do most things in Norwegian. Though sometimes I like to think in English, just to get away from all the Norwegian surrounding me. And in my head (and a few times aloud) I swear in English, because the Norwegian swears are all so boring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zgirnius View Post
I have had dreams in both languages.
I dreamt myself into Lord of the Rings once... and everything was in English. Quite funny, as I normally stutter when I speak English, but in this dream I talked as easily as I do in Norwegian.


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  #46  
Old March 2nd, 2009, 4:03 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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.... each group forms plurals, and different cases in the plural, in its own unique way. 5 groupings times 2 for singular vs. plural times 7 cases = 70 endings to memorize. Not to mention that there are three groupings of adjectives, which alse decline, and have different forms when modifying masculine and feminine nouns...
Oh, God... I can SO relate to this!

7 ruddy cases - even Latin is easier to learn than my mother tongue! At least spelling is a breeze, but then we use both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet...

Even though I'm not truly bilingual, I've spent the better part of last 15 years speaking English more often than my native language - conversations in Serbian are limited to household matters (most often than not it means just talking to my kids) and grocery shopping.

I have no problem translating literary texts into Serbian (I'm a pro, after all), but I do have a major problem writing them. Which is to say, when I do a column I actually write it in English and them self-translate into my native language (just don't tell the editors, they'll kill me! ). To quote zgirnius, "I know that if I were writing the same thing in English, it would be polished - I would be using the exact right word to create the mood or meaning I want, my sentence structure would be more varied, and it would just be better."

After that, it's a snap to come up with corresponding sentences in Serbian.


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  #47  
Old April 5th, 2009, 11:02 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

English is my first language, but I have conversational German and Spanish from 3.5 years studying them, and I find myself dropping things into my English, as well as bits of French. So I guess I speak a very convoluted Eurenglish.
I'll shout something like: "No es Justo! Just cuz I'm younger - das ist ageist!"


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  #48  
Old April 5th, 2009, 11:50 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I think one of the cons would be interference. One cannot help allowing one´s mother toungue getting in between the learning of a second language. I speak very fluent English, but still, specially when writting, I sometimes want to say something and I cannot find the write words to say it , with the same meaning in English.


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  #49  
Old April 6th, 2009, 4:54 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Montse View Post
I think one of the cons would be interference. One cannot help allowing one´s mother toungue getting in between the learning of a second language. I speak very fluent English, but still, specially when writting, I sometimes want to say something and I cannot find the write words to say it , with the same meaning in English.
Well that's certainly not unusual, even though I understand why you don't consider it advantageous--hell, I'm by no means bilingual, but sometimes I accidentally say things in French. It's damn inconvenient when it happens in public.


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  #50  
Old April 6th, 2009, 5:46 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I once had a septilingual friend. Those things happened to him quite often, but It didn't bother anyone. Not himself nor anyone else.


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  #51  
Old April 6th, 2009, 5:50 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Alastor View Post
I once had a septilingual friend. Those things happened to him quite often, but It didn't bother anyone. Not himself nor anyone else.
I'm gonna happily admit to being only bilingual, but I sometimes use phrases in Irish simply because I can't think of the English words. I know a lot of international students and people with no Irish at all (since many people in Ireland, oddly, don't speak it) so I sometimes get funny looks- but I can't say that it bothers me and usually after a few seconds the English wording comes back and I can better explain. People don't seem to realise it all that often, and I suppose a lot of Irish words are relatively colloquial here. Nonetheless, I'd like to believe that someday it might not happen to me! !


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  #52  
Old April 6th, 2009, 6:33 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I'm somewhat trilingual myself. Often enough I knowingly use a word from another language when I can't find the right word.


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  #53  
Old April 6th, 2009, 9:06 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

One thing that happened to me the last days, was when my boss told me to check room "E" and I went to check Room "I". English "E" and German "I" sound the same and I mixed them up. Of course should I ask myself, why should my boss start to speak German all of the sudden...

I actually have problems with people spelling things, because German and English pronunciation of letters sound the same, but are actually a different letter. Examples are E and I or V and W. Somehow my brain switches to German when hearing those letters. I am making mnemonics by thinking "E like E.T."


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  #54  
Old April 6th, 2009, 2:10 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

I speak both English and Hindi with native fluency, as do most people in India (or the big cities like Delhi and Bombay, to be precise), Hindi being our mother tongue and English being the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. So much that its very rare to hear people speaking just Hindi or just English. Whichever language we happen to be talking in, a few words from the other will seep into every sentence! And this happens everywhere, on the radio, tv, even movies!

I also took German in school and then continued with it, even getting a scholarship to spend a month in Germany and there we'd make crazy hybrid sentences in three languages and burst out laughing. We also taught some fellow students various Hindi abuses and they'd try them out on the train and once we saw an Indian couple sitting behind us, looking very amused.

Then to add to it, I recently started learning French and the first few weeks were a nightmare. The teacher would ask me basic questions in French like "Quel age avez vous?" and for the life of me, nothing would come into my head except "Ich bin zwanzig."
Though French is a relief after German, I almost cried with joy when I found out that the basic third person possessive is limited to son, sa, ses as opposed to years of torture with sein, seine, seines, hr, ihre, ihres and the whole gamut!


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  #55  
Old April 6th, 2009, 2:33 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by canismajoris View Post
Well that's certainly not unusual, even though I understand why you don't consider it advantageous--hell, I'm by no means bilingual, but sometimes I accidentally say things in French. It's damn inconvenient when it happens in public.
Just reminded me of my housemate. She had a really important presentation during the week and afterwards the lecturer came up to her and said 'yeah, it went really well but you did lapse into German for a while'.


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  #56  
Old April 6th, 2009, 4:23 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by canismajoris View Post
Well that's certainly not unusual, even though I understand why you don't consider it advantageous--hell, I'm by no means bilingual, but sometimes I accidentally say things in French. It's damn inconvenient when it happens in public.
I bet it is.
I wish I could swear in English but since I only swear when very,very frustrated, it often comes out in spanish . I suppose It wouldnt come out with the same emotional charge in English. Luckily , it does not happen often in public.


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  #57  
Old April 7th, 2009, 11:29 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by TheInvisibleF View Post
Just reminded me of my housemate. She had a really important presentation during the week and afterwards the lecturer came up to her and said 'yeah, it went really well but you did lapse into German for a while'.
Once, while I was playing a game of Upwords with my mom (it's similar to Scrabble & uses the same dictionary), I found myself trying to roll out a spelling of "house" that was half English and half German (I think I was trying to spell it "hause"), before I caught myself and went, "What the heck am I doing?! " ...and I only took one year of German in high school, too.


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  #58  
Old April 9th, 2009, 5:56 am
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Montse View Post
I bet it is.
I wish I could swear in English but since I only swear when very,very frustrated, it often comes out in spanish . I suppose It wouldnt come out with the same emotional charge in English. Luckily , it does not happen often in public.
Haha I find that English swearwords (the ones that I know at least) sound far too sophisticated to be used when I'm really mad. I always swear in Hindi, it just gives more satisfaction

I even prefer to swear in German/Spanish because English is just too, well, proper.


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  #59  
Old April 9th, 2009, 7:34 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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Originally Posted by Kanksha View Post
Haha I find that English swearwords (the ones that I know at least) sound far too sophisticated to be used when I'm really mad. I always swear in Hindi, it just gives more satisfaction

I even prefer to swear in German/Spanish because English is just too, well, proper.

*has trouble trying to imagine English swear-words as "sophisticated"*

Which is probably because a lot of the most common ones (the "four-letter words") have been around in the English language since at least Anglo-Saxon times... and the words that native English speakers tend to consider sophisticated are the ones that were borrowed from Romance languages like French & Latin.


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Old April 9th, 2009, 10:46 pm
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Re: The pros and cons of being bilingual

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I always swear in Hindi, it just gives more satisfaction
I think this is it. The emotional charge is not found in swear English words. Spanish works perfect and it gives me satisfaction(catharsis efect). I dont know if the English words sound sophisticated or not.They just dont work for me.


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