Who speaks multiple languages

I bombed french class, and barely passed one year of Japanese lol. I can count to 10 in both but thats about it.

One thing I was thinking about, for those of you that are fluent in multiple languages…

When you hear somthing in your 2nd language (conversation, song, etc) does it automatically translate in your head? Do you interpret it as easily as if it was in your main language?

Or do you have to translate and piece it together


I spoke a couple conversationally and spent long periods immersed in those foreign language environments and could pick them back up relatively easily if immersed again. I never got to the point where I thought or dreamed wholly in another language. One of the languages I know is sign language, and I did have dreams where people were signing, but it wasn’t a ‘dream in sign language’ if you know what I mean.

With Spanish, to use an example, I did get to the point where hearing it was the exact same as hearing something in English. The concepts just immediately translated without filtering them through active translationary thought. It was cool and still happens after about a week in a Spanish speaking country. I love Spanish more than any other language. It is the perfect romance language, bar none.

With American Sign Language, it is much harder to explain, because the language is simply so much different in terms of processing, I think. After lots and lots of total immersion in the Deaf community, I got to the point where I could understand sign without looking at peoples hands. I could look at their eyes and facial expressions, totally ignoring their hands, and still somehow understand what they were saying. I can’t, for the life of me, explain it. It is like I just somehow took the totality of their signs, expressions, and movement and fused them unconsciously. It represented a real moment of freedom and progress in my ASL journey where I could communicate on a much deeper and more emotional level.

French is super hard for me. I can’t understand what the fuck they are saying. They need to get rid of liaisons and actually annunciate their words. It’s gibberish to me. Italian is just an inferior version of Spanish (Italians would kill me over this). And Esperanto is really cool.


No you end up “thinking” and listening in the language you are speaking. I’m fluent in 2 languages and can easily swap between the 2 mid sentence and not skip a beat. Our brains are wired for speech so it doesnt take em long to adjust. I’ll often forget a word in one language and just use the same word in a different one.


Yes! I do that often, but for some reason Italians are especially sensitive when I accidentally slip Spanish words in my sentences.


I am fortunate to have also experienced this level of ASL enrichment. Unfortunately I rarely sign these days.


Me too :frowning: I actually did a short stay at Gallaudet a lifetime ago. It’s difficult, because I will never be able to communicate and convey that experience to another hearing person that hasn’t experienced it. It’s an entirely different world, so alien to the hearing. But I have no connection to the Deaf community anymore, so I feel a bit like it’s just an an isolated memory, adrift in a lonely sea. It was an experience that shaped and impacted me in a way no other has, I think. It led me down every path that brought me to where I am today.

For our new years resolutions, both of us should go to an ice cream social. Are those still a thing? Did I just date myself?

What was your ASL experience like? It’s very surprisingly easy to pick it back up. I picked it back up in 2015 after a 10 year hiatus, dating a Deaf woman, and did absolutely fine after a few days. I was rusty as hell and had to fingerspell way too much, but that fluidity and emotional communication ability remained.


Yeah they can be a bit sensitive about that. Not our fault the two are so similar when you arent fluent in either…haha. When I was travelling overseas, I’d phone the folks and try speak my home non english language but I’d switch to english when I couldn’t remember words or was talking about newer tech things. Got so many funny looks from people who could hear me…like what the fuck is this guy talking?

Bonus: Being able to swear and talk shit, knowing nobody will understand you, is great too.


Fascinating! But as an empath* it makes perfect natural sense to me. Beautiful.

And that would explain why the facial communication component is essential/necessary. (as a stoner & with total respect, i still had to laugh more than once at some seemingly over-expressive signers, the government speeches & whatnot).
:sweat_smile: dayum!

:evergreen_tree: (* not psychic like Troi :vulcan_salute:)

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Its interesting that it becomes automatic. I guess it makes sense if you were to practice enough. One day I’ll try and learn a new language lol


It’s OK to laugh. Part of the fun and inherent beauty of sign language is getting to have so much fun with expressiveness. It’s inevitably going to be funny sometimes just like dramatic hearing people are when they speak. I’ll admit, I am quite a dramatic person and it was a good fit. It’s such a dynamic and beautiful language with such range. Just like with some verbal orators, some signers just have a way about them where you can watch them for hours, captivated, or also laugh riotously at over-the-top signing.

And during the disaster briefs, I’ve found myself laughing, too, when the situation definitely didn’t warrant it and I wondered, “am I laughing at the signs and the interpreter?” I realized I was laughing at the ridiculousness of what the politicians are saying, but it’s just so much easier to see the ridiculousness when it’s being signed, and it really comes through. I am sure for many it’s different, but that was my personal experience. If some one signed a Trump speech, I could probably never, ever stop laughing, even though the subject matter isn’t funny at all.

I am really wondering about how masks are impacting the D/deaf. I can’t communicate properly at all with them. I get socially anxious and uncomfortable and find myself having difficulty understanding people and also interpreting their intent. I can’t imagine how bad it must be for them.


I speak English and German while English is my second language. I often think and sometimes dream in it.

I just recently heard from a different approach to “learning” languages in which they said you should acquire the language instead of learning it. So there’s basically this natural approach of acquiring by listening to simple content, reading kids books or asking questions (yourself or a language buddy).
Sounds definitely more fun than memorizing vocabulary or grammar and I think a good approach would be to take a middle way between the two.

If your mother tongue is English you are already at a great advantage to learn languages of romance (e.g. French, Spanish, Italian)or germanic origin (e.g. German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish).

English derived a huge amount of words from those languages, so there are a lot of similar or even identical words, so called cognates, which make it very easy to obtain a lot of words very fast. Simply because you already know them.

The Loom of language is a very interesting book which dives deeper into the relation English has with different languages, but also the history.

Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish is a book based on those numerous cognates between english and Spanish, which makes obtaining vocabulary a walk in a park.


I never even considered people may dream in a different language. Using children’s books would probably be good way to start picking things up too.

The masculine/feminine bs in French was the main thing that hung me up… plus just the way its taught in school did nothing to interest me. I’d prefer being able to speak it than write it if I could only do one, and pretty much all we were taught is to write it


One pair of cement shoes coming right up!!! :skull_and_crossbones:

I mean going down? :joy:


In German you have masculine, feminine, and neuter!

I was fluent in French at one point. I haven’t been to a native speaking country in 25 years so it’s rusty now. I studied it in school, was an exchange student in Quebec, then lived in France as part of my college education. I’ve had a couple jobs where I would occasionally need to know the language, but not for a long time.

It used to be instantaneous, but now I have to translate in my head. I understand what’s coming in but it takes longer to formulate a response than I’d like. I no longer dream in French, but I’d get by just fine if I went back.

I also studied German, Russian, and Japanese but didn’t stick with them and never traveled to where they are spoken. I was also much younger when I began learning French which they say is beneficial.