Second language woes :)

@arkaf61 (10882)
Canada
February 18, 2008 9:53pm CST
Ok I have been speaking English for over 20 years. I think in English, I dream in English. My vocabulary is extensive and varied. .. Still English is not my first language. So every once in a while and out of the blue I stop and have to think if I am supposed to say on or in - because in my language they are both the same thing. I always think twice before using words like beach or sheet because before thinking my brain misses the difference between the sounds for those two words and the ones for two other that would be censored in here :) WHen a friend tells me that I sound a little hoarse today I have to stop the impulse to tell her that some times when she laughs she sounds like a chicken but I never felt the need to point that out until I realize she said hoarse and not horse. Sometimes I am looking for a word for weeks and can't get it in any language. Other times I remember the word in one language when I need the other. Other times I keep talking until I see the blank face in the person I'm talking too and realize I am speaking in another language without noticing. Sometimes I even mix two languages. LIke the time I was with a few friends that spoke only English or French and ended up saying that the poor man was "blessed in the war " when I meant he was wounded in the war. So... if the language you use every day is not your first language.. do you have any stories ? Come on.. it can't be only me hehehehe
5 people like this
17 responses
• Singapore
19 Feb 08
Hello Arkaf :) Did you learn both languages together? For me, I learn both English and my mother tongue together so teachers will write in my testimonials "effectively bilingual". ^^ I don't have a problem like yours. It could be because both languages are vastly different. It could be because I learned them together when young. Or it could be because?? :PPP
4 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
My Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO nice to see you :):):) I did not learn both languages together. Portuguese first. Then French when I was already 9 years old. Spanish was basically a twin language but I spoke it only when I came to Portugal a bit later. English was later. I know that when one learns more the other language at the same time as the primary language it works so much better. I used to know a 4 year old kid that would turn to mom speak English, to Dad French and to Grandpa Spanish and all that without even stopping the flow of the conversation. Me I need to think first LOL
3 people like this
• Singapore
19 Feb 08
You know why you got confused? Because you know too many languages!! :PP
3 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
LOL but I still want to learn more heheheh I imagine my conversations will be quite confusing them huh? LOL
2 people like this
@misheleen73 (6037)
• United States
19 Feb 08
I am at work and thanks to your discussion, I just did it over the air to the Fire Dept. I meant to say "please" and said "por favor" English is my first language, but I am fluent in spanish. I read, write, and speak it. I translate at work and my husband is Cuban. We speak mostly english at home, but we still speak spanish at times. Sometimes when i am translating, I turn to the person I am supposed to be translating for and repeat word for word what the other person just said instead of translating into the proper language..lol. Once I was trying to tell my mother (who speaks no spanish) that I had heartburn, but for the life of me, could not remember how to say it in english. I kept saying it in spanish and trying to explain it to her, because I truly forgot the word !! My brain gets all mixed up sometimes..lol.
3 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
LOL hope they understood your por favor . SOrry LOL IT happened to me too when talking to a friend in Portuguese turning around to a English only friend and continue the conversation in Portuguese until I see the blank face :) I think all our brains get mixed up sometimes so that just make us normal :):)
1 person likes this
@polachicago (19073)
• United States
19 Feb 08
sign language - love
Ha, ha...I think that we are having the same problem with beach or sheet....(you are not the only one) I remember (about 18 years ago) friend's face when I was looking for an eraser, but I said the I need a rubber....and I didn't know why his face was red... I don't mix languages. I think in language I am having conversation at the moment. I am not sure what language is in my dreams....maybe I have to think about tomorrow morning when awake... One is for sure; my dogs and my cat are bilingual... If lost in foreign place I always use sign language...lol HUGS!
3 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
Sign language is accepted everywhere:) I swear by it :):):) Talking about sign language I am not too bad with basic words and sentences. One of my friend's brother lost all his hearing before 6 and they all learned sign language - so did I while I was there:) My pets are bilingual as well - although where I think they master is in reading what I mean more than what I say LOL
2 people like this
• Indonesia
19 Feb 08
I grow up in multilingual country. we use Indonesian as primary language, and since I come from Chinese ethnic, Hokkianese is my second tongue. English came later when I studied at school, added as third language. and Chinese is the latest one I learn. mostly I still use Indonesian language, but I communicate in English on the Internet. :) too much language would be confusing sometimes. especially when not everyone understand the same languages. I mean, sometimes when I forgot about one word in Indonesia, but I still remember the English or Chinese word, that would be hillarious to have people guess the exact word I meant. :P
3 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
I know what you mean. It's interesting to know the different languages used in one country and I can see how it can be confusing when speaking to people from different parts of that country. In Portugal people speak only Portuguese - as the official language although french , spanisha and English are understood in most places - but there are some dialects that are really complicated. Mirandes in the north is so different from Portuguese that most Portuguese people would not be able to understand a word of it :)
2 people like this
• United States
19 Feb 08
English is the only language I have ever been able to speak fluently. I tried and tried to speak spanish and it just never stuck with me. I have a friend who speaks spanish as her first language and she will start talking to me in english and the more involved she gets in telling me her story the more her words start slipping into spanish. It starts out with When I went to the mall today there was this guy and by the end I am pulling out my spanish to english dictionary trying to see if she was calling me a nasty name. lol
3 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
LOL I can really understand your friend hehehehe I don't do that that often anymore but I used to for some time when I came to live here. Now the opposite happens sometimes too. I'm having a conversation in Portuguese and suddenly I notice that I'm mixing some English words here and there.
2 people like this
• Canada
19 Feb 08
I haven't been on this discussion board in months but I still keep track of the discussions here and when I saw yours, I knew that I had to respond. My first language is English but I have had a few similar experiences such as you mentioned back when I also could speak French. I wanted to write about an English-English problem that I am having though. I was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm a couple of years ago. I had also had some brain damage in the 90's from some injuries but, with training, the other side of my brain had taken over and most of the problems had sorted themselves out. When the aneurysm was discovered, however, I was advised to leave work and go on disability since I was in a highly stressful job. Since then, I joined Pogo where I could play a lot of games to keep my mind active. I try to challenge myself but I have noticed that my oral language skills are declining even though I have three university degrees. Short-term memory and language were two areas that were affected when I was injured. Through hard work, I was able to basically fight them so that no one could notice but now it has become really apparent. I am constantly forgetting what word I want to say. I know in my mind what word I want to use but it won't come out. Instead, I will say something that has nothing whatsoever to do with what I am discussing. Often, I will try to use some form of sign language but my husband will have no idea what I am trying to say. The injuries left me almost the same as someone who has had a stroke in that area, except not as badly. It is so frustrating, especially since I know how I used to be. It does not seem to have affected my written skills, just my oral ones. My husband cannot understand why I like to be on the computer so much now...gee, I wonder why. After all these years, a doctor has finally requested brain injury trauma assessment for me and although we really don't have that in our area, I am now starting a programme with Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy. They are hoping to retrain my brain to deal with the remaining problems...the ones I have complained about for over 15 years. So, I do understand your language difficulties but I thought you might be interested in hearing from someone who is having 2nd language difficulties....with their first language.
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
Bear bluebird I remember you, you are in my list of friends:) I have a friend in Portugal that seems to be having the same problems as you although I am not sure if about the brain aneurysm part, and I really understand the frustration. I can't remember the name of what they diagnosed her with, but she has trouble using the right words for what she wants to say. There are times that she feels really angry because like you she has a university degree with a masters in psycology and it's very frustrating not to be able to express herself verbally. She isn't working for about 4 years. But they have a speech program that she has been attending for a few months now that seems to have helped somewhat. I hope that your speech therapy will help you too. IN a way knowing that even first language can be a problem helps me get a new perspective on my own woes in this area :) I do know, for example that some people when they have a serious illness, seem to revert to their first language even if they were fluent in their second or third language. I experienced that first hand when I was working in an hospital here. I am also in Pogo with arkaf61 as my username if you want we can be friends there too :) Big hug and thanks for responding
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
P.S. I meant Dear bluebird of course :)
2 people like this
• Canada
19 Feb 08
Thanks for letting me know about your friend, Arkaf. Let her know that I hope those lessons will continue to help her. And thanks for your wishes for me. I hope the SP will help...they have told me that there are little tricks to help recover the words that I want to use but am unable to get out. I will look you up on Pogo. It's always nice to have another friend there.
2 people like this
• India
19 Feb 08
well English is not my first language either. My first language or mother-tongue is Bengali. But there are many English-medium schools in India where English is taught as the first language and the student has the choice of taking either the mother-tongue or the national language Hindi as the second language. I went to one such school so in the school leaving certificate, my first language is English, second language Bengali and Hindi is my third language. Besides this, whenever we are speaking we always tend to mix languages. It is only as per requirement that I speak only English otherwise I am more confident speaking benglish (mix of Bengali & English) or hinglish (mix of Hindi and English) hehehe. I also face the same problems of searching for words like when I am writing these responses, I am thinking of a particular word which is very common in Bengali but I just cant find the exact word in English. It will come to me eventually but maybe a few hours later and by that time, I have used another word. It is frustrating, I know.
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
I love the idea of Benglish or Hinglish LOL I am sometimes faced with the difficulty of finding a word that means exactly the same thing in the other language, some you can't really translate at least not literally. I am thinking about the word saudades in Portuguese, which is very difficult to translate. It means missing someone, something or a place, but it also means so much more that missing doesn't even start to describe it. Longing , missing, everything we try does not fully describe that word. It happens with some words sometimes :)
1 person likes this
• India
20 Feb 08
that's why we say mother tongue!
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
Exactly :)
1 person likes this
@hotsatya (240)
• India
19 Feb 08
my mother tounge is hindi i speak hindi since my childhood i think in hindi, dream in hindi, like u becuse this is my mother tounge. All my relative naighbour speak hindi, but due to my neighbours i can speak some outher language whenever i in a good mood i speak they languages, i can speak punjabi, maithili, & some bhojpuri, enlgish too. now days i spend my time to learn english because this langugae is very imporatant in working sector. could u sujess me better idia that how to learn english for that i will able to speak english soon
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
Well other than formal classes which will give you the theory but not always the practice, you already gave the first step by being here in myLot. Doesn't matter if your ENglish is not perfect right now, but the more you are here and answer discussions, the more you read what's posted the easier English will become to you:) Stay around and participate. THat will increase your vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.
1 person likes this
• Canada
19 Feb 08
I also have a second langueage that takes over my sub conscious every now and again. I talk write and think in english and i barely even talk in spanish( my second lnagueage). At times howver when ive been talking alot of spanish i do find myslf thinking in spanish.
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
Yes the right way to describe it sometimes is that one language takes over the other one LOL
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
19 Feb 08
lol..you are not alone. English is not my first language either...but I think in English and speak more English than my first language. Most of my misunderstandings are based on the pronounciation of certain English words in the local language. I've heard various pronounciations and I always stop and think before I reply nowadays. There is a joke about how Malayalis (that's the language I speak - Malayalam)speak. How does a Malayali spell 'moon'? Ans : 'Yam'-'Yo'-yet another 'Yo'-'Yan'. There are all sorts of jokes about how Malayalis speak (and every region in India). in fact the word 'joke' is pronounced as 'jaw-k'. But now that I am used to various dialects and pronounciations, I know what I hear..lol And in India, it is quite common to mix English with a regional language...so no one's ever surprised when you slip into the local language or Hindi mid sentence. Off late, I'm thinking so fast in my head and my words are slower than my thoughts, I catch myself saying 'chop the vessels' when I mean 'chop the vegetables'.
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
LOL I can understand that :) I notice that I sometimes make mistakes when I'm not really paying attention to what I'm saying or writing. I've also noticed that sometimes I type thinks when I mean things, and change instead of chance but I see no special reason for that mistake and it only happens when I am typing so maybe the place where the keys are in the keyboard.
1 person likes this
@oriental (1051)
• Uruguay
24 Feb 08
When I read your comments about your hesitations at using some English words I thought: "Her mother tongue must be Spanish", because your doubts were my own doubts. But then, in (or "on"?) your profile I saw a photo of a Portuguese flag, so I concluded you must be born in Portugal. But after that I realized you live in Canada, so may be English was not your first language because you were a Quebecois. Anyway, I found your comments most amusing. I can't remember any funny situation about misusing a word in particular, but I still blush when I remember the following anecdote. Many years ago I was in a little town in Germany and, being my last name of German stock, I tried to make myself understand in that language with the hotel keeper. I didn't pay attention to the fact that my knowledge of German was the fruit of only one year of study. So, after listening just a few words, the man asked me if I spoke English. I nodded, but insisted with my precarious German, so the hotel keeper thought my English and my German were alike and asked about my French. I answered: "Oui, bien sure!" but I was so nervous by then that I couldn't change "my software" and went on trying to speak in German. On the brink of a nervous breakdown, the man asked me: "But, what language can you speak?" When I answered "Spanish", he sighed and said: "I don't speak Spanish". I don't remember what came next, but the fact is that I got a room that night.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
24 Feb 08
LOL I have to say that your story got me smiling :) I can relate. My German is not the best either even though I persisted for a few years more LOL WHen we come to it, Portuguese and Spanish are quite similar so it's no wonder that you got the impression my first language is Spanish. I was indeed born in Portugal. But I lived in a few different places, and I think we lived in Cadiz for about a year when I was little. I know we went back often since my mom has/has family there. In any case I have been living in Canada for the past 20 years so I shouldn't be having problems about when using in or on LOL But it still happens sometimes :):)
@masara (2)
• China
20 Feb 08
I always want to improve my English...no matter what i do ,it's no effect for my English study ..sometimes i really want to give up ,but i couldn't.bucause English is one of the most important still for our life,when i need to talk to some foreigners,i have no idea,just smile..so sad
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
No need to feel sad. THe longer you are in here the easier it will get to understand and use English. Just read the posts and responses and you will learn more and more words. Welcome to myLot :)
@sid556 (31005)
• United States
20 Feb 08
I can't relate to your story because I only speak english but I do have to tell you that I did find it very entertaining. I have a good & vivid imagination and caught myself giggling as I read. I'm sure others can relate. I work next door to a chinese restaraunt and so I am dealing with their accents and lack of english all the time....it gets pretty funny at times. I found that they write better english than they speak.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
hehehe I even giggle myself sometimes. Specially when I only catch my mistake after it's out :) What I find even funnier is the way people sometimes have the tendency to pick up languages in their own language and ... dress them up - that's what I call it - as English. Sometimes they come out really funny. But it's not only with a different language. When I came to Canada I was teaching at night and babysitting during the day. THe baby's mom got a cleaning lady and was very excited telling me that she was Portuguese and it would probably would be nice for me to find someone speaking my own language. Well she came and to my surprise I could hardly get what she was saying. She was from the islands and had a very strong accent as well as different words that I had never used. To top it off she had also been here for quite some time and had made a lots of changes in words in such a way that they were not Portuguese or English anymore. I was not prepared LOL For weeks she kept talking to me about a "me shin" which to me sounded like "bichinho" a small animal in Portuguese. I kept noding and smiling until one day she said something that sounded like her husband was really mad at the me shin and had just grabbed it and put it in the garbage. I was shocked, how could someone do that to a small animal, or big in any case!!!! I wasn't too impressed with that husband that threw animals in the garbage. Many months passed. I was not working there anymore but in an hospital and I met another lady from the same Portuguese island. That's when I heard about the "me shin" again and this time I really wanted to get the story so I probed and probed and finally figured out that there was no reason to be so mad at the poor man, "me shin" was their Portenglish word for machine. No small animals were hurt in this story but I sure thought the little "me shin" had been wronged LOLOLLLLLLLLL
@miryam (6507)
• Italy
19 Feb 08
i'm italian, i live in a little city, no tourist, i'm learn a few english and french, but scool lenel, i use englhis in egipt an i in mylot for learn , but are very hard, and i love sing in english, but are a few a little i knoe...sorry please. i know very very well italiano......ahahah bye kiss myryam
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
ah italiano, beautiful sound:) YOu don't need to worry about your English. It will come with practice and here is one of the best places for that:) Italian is much closer to my own language so again easier for me.
• Canada
19 Feb 08
English is my first language and french is my second language. I currently do not speak french on a daily basis but as it was my major in university I had to spend thre months in a french speaking environment. I also did geographie and economie in french in highschool. I have no idea what any of the geographical or economical terms are in english and after spending three months of speaking only french I found it extrememly difficult to speak in english when I got home. Especially to people I did not know personally. The night that I moved back home my family took me out to supper at a restaurant. I kept asking the waiter for things in french and saying 'oui' and 'merci' when he spoke to me. My neurologist was from India and had such a strong accent I kept replying with "oui" even though I knew he was not french. The accent just tripped me up. I also can not, for the life of me, spell gouvernement in english unless I look it up first. When I very first moved to the french speaking community I found it impossible to think of all the french words I needed, but as I learned so much there I still often find it hard to think of some words in english for subjects that I never learned in egnlish, like, we did a class based entirely on the culture of the place I lived.
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
THe language we use the most is certainly the one that comes first to mind, although sometimes a words just vanishes from our mind :) I was much more at ease with French for various reasons. I learned it first, I spent more time in French speaking countries and it was closer to my first language. But the thing is not being able to use it on a regular basis it is now fading a bit :)
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
19 Feb 08
LMAO! What a great story! I know you're not the only one who goes through that, as I've heard other friends talk of it before. Me, I'm "boring". I only speak English. I took French in school of course, but not enough to make me think in French. Just enough to understand the odd French dialogue/monologue here and there. You had me gigglesnorting when I read that you want to tell your friend she sometimes sounds like a chicken! BWHAHAHA!! Too funny!!!
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
This actually happened on my first year in Canada. I was a ward clerk at a hospital in here and I was indeed hoarse, but it didn't sink until I almost said the chicken thing LOL
@wisedragon (2330)
• Philippines
19 Feb 08
I was educated using English as the medium of instruction, though it is not my native language. I'm pretty good at writing in English, but speaking is a different story. I have bloopers sometimes. Like one time I was playing golf with my cousin and instead of saying "crappy", I said "We're using the creepy ball." I always mix up "nice to meet you" and "nice meeting you". Like when saying goodbye to a person I just met for the first time, I always say "nice to meet you". LOL
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
20 Feb 08
LOL I can relate. Love the creepy ball hehehehe Most of the times it's not that we don't know but more that we don't have enough time to make the conversion properly, which is also why writing is much better because we have time.