Thinking in Learned Languages

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Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby dtp883 » Sun 31 May 2009 10:43 am

Sorry, I don't like to ask questions here, because I always feel I'm going to ask something that has an obviously evident answer.

My question, how many of you think in your learned languages? If you've learned more than one language which one do you think in the most, the first learned one?

Also if you have two L1s, does your thinking depend on which on which you are speaking or do you think predominately in one of these L1s?

Danny
Native: English (NW American)
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French
Beginning: Arabic (MSA/Egyptian)
Some day: German
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby Declan » Sun 31 May 2009 11:13 am

For someone who has learned Irish, but can think in it, you don't need to be fluent to be able to think in a language. The only thing necessary, I feel, is immersion at some stage. I only tend to think in Irish though, when writing in it, when watching it (and I get lazy when there are subtitles) and when immersed in it again.
Native: English
Very good: Irish
Reasonable: German, French
Very basic: Latin.
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby kaenif » Sun 31 May 2009 11:25 am

For years my English teachers have said that a person who thinks in English when they are speaking/writing in it is a successful learner.
I have been trying to do that for a long time, but only did it to a small extent, in simple ideas.

I mostly express ideas in my L1, Cantonese and we usually use it on the internet. Although we write essays in Standard Chinese at school, we write them in a very "Cantonese" way. (Don't know how to describe that)
Can you recognise this character?
Nope, it's not shāng. It is a 囧 with a hat which 囧ed its chin off!
囧囧囧囧囧囧囧囧囧!
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby Delodephius » Sun 31 May 2009 5:55 pm

I can think in three languages at a time (Slovak, Serbian, English), switching sentences between them in my head as I go. I usually however think in the language I happen to choose randomly or if I read something then mostly I rethink it in the language that I'm reading in, although if I'm practising for a speech or I want to hear my thoughts out loud, then I rethink it in the language of the targeted listeners. Since I have a tendency to talk to myself a lot when I'm alone, I actually mastered English to the point that my accent has become almost unnoticeable. :lol:

While I was still learning Russian (until becoming disgusted of it) I did try to think in it even though I couldn't speak or formulate a correct sentence once I opened my mouth. :D
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby sokuban » Sun 31 May 2009 9:32 pm

Yes, I can think in other languages. If I don't know the language very well, sometimes even though I think the sentence in the language, some parts may be blanked out with gibberish or substituted with words I do know. It is a transparent process to me though.

It is a pain sometimes. I am very bad at translating; I'm talking to someone in English but thinking in say Japanese and I think of something to say but I don't know how to translate it—even though there may be a good English expression for it.

For example the other day, I was wanting to ask someone for advice. The word I thought to use was 恋愛相談, but when I translated it to English I asked for "romantic advice" and it sounded really weird. A lot of things I translated in that discussion probably didn't come out right. (I guess it's because of all the Japanese dramas I watch that I think when it comes to this kind of stuff, my Japanese (L2) vocabulary is better than my English (L1) vocabulary.)

Anyone else get that feeling of your L2 having a better vocabulary for certain things than your L1? I guess if English is your L2 and you are into technology or Italian is your L2 and you are into music you would.
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby Sean of the Dead » Sun 31 May 2009 9:38 pm

@Sokuban: I wouldn't necessarily say my German has more words for a certain subject than English, but sometimes I feel that I can express myself better in German than an equivalent sentence in English, but I can't think of any examples. :P
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby Epp » Sun 31 May 2009 11:20 pm

I think some things are easier to express in German than in English and vice-versa. I can very often translate things directly from Norwegian into German, but not that often into English, because of the many romance loan words it has.
E.g.
Kühlschrank vs. refrigator

From a stylistic point of view, the romance words often look better, though.
E.g.
Lese- und Schreibfähigkeit vs. literacy
But, but; it's not only-only, you know!
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby SamD » Mon 01 Jun 2009 8:39 pm

Most of my thinking is in my native English, but if I use an L2 for more than a few minutes, it's almost like my mind is shifting gears and I start thinking in the L2.
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby ILuvEire » Tue 02 Jun 2009 6:31 am

I can think in Italian, Danish, and German, although what I think is mostly ungrammatical, I just have a large vocabulary in all of these languages.

I honestly do most of my thinking in English, but it's not really English, it's more like my own "creole." Like, that sentence in my head was: Ærligt I mache most af mein thinking nella engelsk, but det er ikke really engelsk, it's mehr like mein own "creole."
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Re: Thinking in Learned Languages

Postby kaenif » Tue 02 Jun 2009 3:35 pm

I was trying to think of something random to "feel" (and notice) how I think, but all I come up with is "食飯" (eating)...
[Off-topic?]
Can you recognise this character?
Nope, it's not shāng. It is a 囧 with a hat which 囧ed its chin off!
囧囧囧囧囧囧囧囧囧!
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