Domande di Internet

Multilinguals and bilinguals of Internet, what has speaking several languages allowed you to do that you wouldn’t be able to if you only spoke one?

Curse people without them knowing

I can talk shit about people while they’re standing right there.

I speak English and French and live in a very french area (no, not france). And sometimes when people hear me speak English they start talking about me or the people I’m with, in French.

My favourite thing to do is switch to French with whoever I’m with, just loud enough for the person talking about me to hear and panic.

I’ve got more concepts for expressing thoughts.

When you begin studying a language, you work with fairly direct translations, for example
awesome/ awe-inspiring (English) = wunderbar / erstaunlich (German). These type of translations work well and having them at your disposal already allows you to communicate really well.

However, at a certain level in the second language you begin to note connotations and concepts surrounding them that differ. The English word awesome can be used in some circumstances for something that inspires terror, the German word wunderbar is always positive, but at least in my social circles, it would be an unusual word choice as praise and might be sarcastic . Erstaunlich is more often translated to differemt than expected than awesome..

Then you stumble upon different points of disambiguation. Czech and German speakers believe there’s 2 very different kinds of deer: Hirsch (some large genus, often depicted as white stag in folklore) and Reh (bambi…), but wouldn’t distinguish between an ape or monkey (unless they had a real interest in biology). Some languages consider the colour of the sky (light blue) as different from the colour of indigo/ultramarine as purple would be..

And then there are simply missing concepts. For example, English doesn’t have a concept for “property of an object or material that describes that something isn’t susceptible to leaks”. Closest I can get it leak tightness but it’s not close enough to the German Dichtigkeit.

Examples like this often make me think about Orwellian newspeak. How can you think something if you don’t know the word or at least the need for a word?

Like many native English speakers I never paid attention in language class at school. Why bother? Even my parents gave the impression it was pointless.

But as an adult I studied Italian, for travel and personal interest. It is great to chat to locals. When you get to the point of correctly understanding something someone has said, it is pretty cool.

Language precedes thought, and speaking more than one language has greatly expanded my ability to feel.