In a polyglot's mind
Something I wanted to talk about for a long time.
What is it about ?
I speak three european languages. Yes they are relatively close and belong to the same cultural space. All I am going to say would be more violent with other languages, like african or asian ones.
Anyway, I use those three languages everyday (almost).
I read in French everyday, be it on the internet, in newspapers, I listen to french TV. And there’s the French speaking club in Århus - C.A.F.E for those who know : club associatif des francophones enthousiates - and I walk often by french speakers everywhere.
I work in Danish, I volunteer, I train archers, I read in Danish.
I watch TV, YouTube in english. I read newspapers in English. Recently I read the whole of The Expanse (and saw the TV serie) in the original American English version.
I have a good chunk of my social life in english. Or in danish. Or in french. Actually in a mix of all three.
Polyglotte power ! Sådan !
What happens when you talk several languages ?
So, it can happen that I don’t remember what language I am talking in. Or what I am hearing too, for that matter. It just simply works, without anymore thoughts.
That’s rather strange to hear a question and then hearing yourself answering… but not in the good language.
This happens especially when I’m watching or listening to a video in English or French. A colleague comes along, asks me a question. And because my thought processes are currently running in the language of the video, then I will answer in that language.
And so, often, I mix it…
Yeah, when I have to switch from one language to another, I get confused. I have to really focus, to get it out in the right language.
When I have experienced an event, I would like to talk about it, to tell it in the language in which I experienced it.
A conference that I attended, I would talk about it much better in the language in question. Because this conference took place in a specific cultural context, with a specific vocabulary, so it will come across better in the language in which the conference was held.
Like a little taste of privilege…
It has become so common for me to read or watch TV in English that I forget that the rest of my fellow citizens are not so lucky.
For example, I often feel like sharing or sending an article, a text or a video in English to my friends.
Except that these friends speak only French. So I have to share a translation with them. It’s fine for a short extract. It’s much less obvious for complex cultural elements like newspaper articles on geopolitics.
Having three languages has opened me up to more cultures and points of view. Especially English, modern Latin, of course. But not only that.
I can now engage with a guy from Idaho, Australia or Israël, and understand better their political views and what matters to them.
No matter what, you always come back to Mom.
But I still swear in french and that’s how my colleagues get I am working on a difficult task. Because strong emotions like joy or frustration come out easier in my mother tongue.
How weird that no one come to ask me something when I am swearing like a trooper. Eventhough no one understand it !