Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Why English?

My mother tongues are spanish and catalan. I have been lucky enough to be raised on both of them. I think bilingual education is one of the best gifts parents can make to their children because it gives you (almost) twice as many references for free. That's a good thing to have, especially when learning other languages.

I used to learn English in the school, then I used it extensively on my work. I think I was able to speak English quite decently. Then we decided to move to Austria. At first I had to rely on English. I spoke only a little German, really too little to be useful. And I decided to learn the hard way.

I started by setting myself very small goals (like "I won't speak a single word in English at lunch time today") and with a lot of patience and effort and time, I now find myself speaking only German, the whole day. That is really fine, and I would be very happy... were my English not gone! When I now open my mouth to speak English, it is quite probable that a number of German words camouflage within the sentence. Even if I put together all of my concentration to the business, I can't help it! The same happens, to a lesser extent, when writing. I have to focus, the verbs not at the end of the sentence to write! ;)

I have a theory. The (mean) human brain is not really prepared to deal with two foreign languages. It just operates in two modes: "mother language" and "foreign language". The foreign language drawer of my brain, which was then happily populated by English, is now dominated by German. Now when my brain switches to foreign language mode, there's just German there. English seems to be on the background.

I hope my English is not really gone. I try to convince myself that with some more practice everything will be all right. And to begin with that practice, I decided to write this blog in English.


Anonymous said...

Let's see if it works...


Anonymous said...

Weeeeeeeeeeeee! Si! Vull dir... yes! It works! Very nice blog, cuñiao! And thanks for the advice...

Iban said...

As you say, you have been really lucky to be brought up in bilingually... so imagine how it must be for people whose mind has only been "shaped" in a language :)

I speak more than 2 languages, and funnily enough I've always been under the impression that bilingual people had a different approach, that somehow they were ready to take on as many languages as they wanted because of the fact that they started up with two... so it's interesting to read this... But then, you know...German is so tricky ;)

Tonicito said...

Alba: Visca! Tu ets el puntet de Barcelona!!! :)

Iban: I'm lucky, but Catalan and Spanish do have a common root. It would be much better to be brought up in a Romance language, a Germanic language and (why not?) a Slavic language! :)
German is really tricky, but seeing how painfully German speakers learn romance languages (subjunctive mood, fourteen different verbal tenses...) I'm happy not to have to learn all that stuff!

Ibán said...

Absolutely agree :)
If only I had been brought up in Spanish and Chinese!! ...or arabic, japanese or German for that matter!

As for Germans...well, it´s payback time!! Let them sweat with our Preterito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo the same way we did with their twisted (to our eyes) gender: Die Sonne, Der Mond, Das Mädchen ;)