2015/10/13

[Good evening Tuesday] Language Switch




The other day I had a conversation with my friends about “language mode switch”. Well the topic was started around “When you speak English/Japanese, do you consciously change the way of thinking to meet English/Japanese culture and grammar?” Some said they consciously switch and some said it’s totally seamless. That was interesting to know. I haven’t thought about this before, but this got me thinking many things. 

Though some people have pointed out that I look like a different person when I switch languages and sometimes I do feel like that, I think I don’t or I no longer feel this “switch” moment.

In my daily life I think in Japanese and English, but I don’t mix languages when I speak. When I write… now I’m writing this in English so I think in English, otherwise it gets tough. (I know I’m dragging Japanese way of writing even when I write in English but that’s how I am) It’s really not fun to precisely translate what I wrote. English-Japanese are not word by word translatable language set, and if I have something I want to say in my mind, it’s easier for me to write it from scratch with another language. But well, maybe I’m more straightforward when I speak English and I think that’s quite normal (due to the grammatical structure and my lack of vocabulary etc)

In my dreams, I use Japanese, English and sometimes French. I do remember which language I used to communicate and sometimes I took notes of exact phrase the person in my dream said to me. But recently I realized that when I recall them later I remember most of them in Japanese.

In fact, not just dreams. I realized that for most of the conversation I had in English or French in real life I remember them in Japanese. In a way that I interpreted and translated in my mind. In my memory, he or she speaks fluent Japanese with his/her mannerism. And to me, this is the sign of “I got it” or “Connected”. Because there are some conversation or certain phrases that I remember in original language. And most of these things are what I couldn’t fully get the real intention and impossible to bring into Japanese, or something which will lose its real meaning when translated.

I guess I take things in this way because I’m not natural bilingual (here I mean someone who consider and be able to use 2 languages equally as their mother tongue) or I don’t know…


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