What language do you "think" in?

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What language do you "think" in?

Postby Conforumist » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:03 am

Obviously everybody (except that Russian girl ;)) post here in English. But I know it's not everyones' first language. So, that's the reason for my question. I tend to think that the language you think in, is the one you're most comfortable with.

I still find it interesting at times that my first language is German, but now I struggle to speak it. I think in English. :)
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Jason » Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:25 am

I only know English so English it must be. I've often wondered what language young children think in before they learn language. A one year old may only be able to say mummy and daddy (or mumma and dadda) but they are capable of thinking so what language are they thinking in?
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby ChristianBecker » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:07 am

What do you want to imply by putting the word into quotes? :D

I assume thinking isn't done in any language at all, but when you express your thoughts (and be it only internally to yourself you use most probably your native language or, in some cases, another language you're very familiar with and which you are primarily using at the moment (for example when I am in an English speaking country I tend to use English to verbalize my thoughts).
Also, when I'm writing here I'm not aware of thinking the sentence in German and then putting it into English.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby The Mad Collector » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:36 am

Having lived in four countries and worked with people from lots more as well as having run International Youth Camps I have had conversations about this many times and I believe that it depends on several things. The most important is the level of fluency of the second language. When I lived in Sweden I was just getting to the stage of not having to deliberately translate before speaking just before I left the country :roll:

The second factor is the level of immersion in the language, Kadri, the Estonian who lives in England now and stays with me every now and then definitely now exists in English and sometimes cannot even come up with the words she wants in Estonian when talking to her parents. She has been here a year and only uses Estonian nowadays during her skype calls home.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby michelanCello » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:12 am

I had a whole topic dedicated to this at my finals :P According to that, there are three theories about the connection between your thoughts and language in general, that I won't bore you with :P
Anyways, I think there's a difference between when you're speaking a language and when you're just, I don't know, walking down the street and thinking about Life and suchlike :P For the first: I'm not translating anything in my head first, I just say what I want to say and if, for example, I can't think of a word, I'm thinking about synonyms, but always in the language itself. It sometimes happens that I'm really looking for a word in, say, German, and I can remember it in every other language except that one, and they're swimming in my head and mocking me - really annoying :P
As to the other one: mostly I'm thinking in Hungarian, though sometimes I catch myself thinking in English (?? search me). Even when I'm in the Netherlands I tend to think Hungarian, though after a couple of weeks it's rather mixed, and at the end of the month it's more Dutch then Hungarian, but it depends, really. But I always have a bit of a difficulty when I arrive in the Netherlands and when I come back after a month, to make the switch in my head. I can speak both languages, but it's these automathic words that I tend to say in the other language without noticing, like "thingie" or "what?" or yes and no.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Tiffany » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:41 am

I have cousins who are French/English/Canadian. Once, when Pierre, my cousins youngest son & the Family were over here I asked Pierre what language he though in. His answer, English when I talk to you, but when I want to say something to Mum, that you can't understand I think it in French & say it in French. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby pip » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:52 am

Only really regularly use English so thats what my brain tends to work in . :D
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Batty » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:16 pm

pip wrote:Only ever had dreams in English and Irish

I've had dreams when I'm speaking a foreign language (french + an unrecognized tongue), and I can't speak either!

Being a twin, when we were babies we used to have our own language, and would answer mum using it.
Mum insisted that we only talk English, and so we stopped speaking it.
To this day we cannot remember what the language was, but it's a shame that Mum didn't let us continue to speak it - if only to each other.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Bouncy Castle » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:54 pm

I once asked a Spanish lad who was on secondment to the company upstairs, and who had very good English, if he dreamed in Spanish or English.

He replied "Spanish, unless I'm drunk, then I dream in English".

:lol: :lol:
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby pip » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:06 pm

:roll: :lol:
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Natalya » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:11 pm

Conforumist wrote:Obviously everybody (except that Russian girl ;)) post here in English...

Incidentally.
As for me when I want to write here I start to think in English ... Oh, ok, I agree, it's of course slightly strange English :mrgreen: ... But I don't think in Russian and then translate into English at that moment. I don't know - why. Maybe I have a small switch in my head... :lol:
By the way: sometimes I watch dreams where I speak in English very well in other country with foreigner people. I love such dreams! 8-)
Last edited by Natalya on Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby pip » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:12 pm

Natalya wrote:
Conforumist wrote:Obviously everybody (except that Russian girl ;)) post here in English...

Incidentally.
As for me when I want to write here I start to think in English ... Oh, ok, I agree, it's of course slightly strange English :mrgreen: ... But I don't think in Russian and then translate into English at that time. I don't know - why. Maybe I have a small switch in my head... :lol:
By the way: sometimes I watch dreams where I speak in English very well in other country with foreigner people. I love such dreams! 8-)

I think that was aimed at at spam that was done in russian and not you Natalya. Your English works fine here :D
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Tiffany » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:22 pm

Natalya wrote:
Conforumist wrote:Obviously everybody (except that Russian girl ;)) post here in English...

Incidentally.
As for me when I want to write here I start to think in English ... Oh, ok, I agree, it's of course slightly strange English :mrgreen: ... But I don't think in Russian and then translate into English at that moment. I don't know - why. Maybe I have a small switch in my head... :lol:
By the way: sometimes I watch dreams where I speak in English very well in other country with foreigner people. I love such dreams! 8-)


Your English to me is brilliant. I doubt I could speak or write in Russian as well, even if I had an aptitude for languages, which I don't.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby CrysaniaMajere » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:27 pm

michelanCello wrote: there are three theories about the connection between your thoughts and language in general, that I won't bore you with :P

why not? :D sounds interesting actually :P

It happens sometimes, when I've spent some time on the internet and the forum, and other times too, because there's a scottish/english man here who isn't good with italian, so he's more comfortable with me speaking to him in english, that I think in english and when someone brings me back to reality I find it difficult to think of the right italian word for it :lol:
In a way thinking in english is my mind's way of escaping reality,if you can get what I mean, since the english language isn't part of my everyday world.
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Re: What language do you "think" in?

Postby Natalya » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:29 pm

pip wrote:I think that was aimed at at spam that was done in russian and not you Natalya. Your English works fine here :D

Oh, really? I think that "russian girl" is about me although I'm more 'woman' than 'girl'. :D
Thank you, Pip and Tiffany! :dance:
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