Saturday, 5 July 2008

How switching language can change your personality

I have recently read in the Press a news that delighted me because it proves what I have known for a long time ; a bi-cultural person reacts differentely to a situation depending on the language he/she is using.

I have always suspected that I was a happier person when I spoke English. In the days when I was badly depressed, I resorted to reading English speaking self help books and it did wonders for me.

New release here.


Tally said...

Although I'm not bi-cultural I know what you quoted myself, but a bit different also. In times when I have been more involved with English, but living in Germany I switch to English, when I'm getting emotional. E.g. writing in my diary in times of depression or having a glas wine too much.

These days I'm in a funny space. I have not been travelling with speaking English for years, but because of my English blog writing and my English internet reading I started to read books in English also at home and English is as naturally to me as living in another country.

Now although being in Hamburg I feel sometimes like traveling because I think in both languages.
So strange in German conversations about feeling, pychology, internet ... I sometimes have to look for the words.

So my travel- and my internet-personality is (international) English, my daily life is German.

In which way are you bi-cultural? I admired your perfect English before.

Hélène H said...

Well, thanks Tally for sharing, and also for the compliment !

In fact my father is British and my mother is French ; I was raised in both languages and most of all in both cultures. Sometimes I feel like a weirdo, then I realize it's just the other culture that is expressing itself. For instance, people tend to frown upon me in France because I talk very easily to people and try to help make things happen - which is just normal in England and english speaking countries I believe :o)

I think it's very true that English is good for expressing emotions. It's way too early for me to know what German will mean to me, however at the moment I often feel relieved and pleased with the practical way German words are made !


Tally said...

"pratical way of German word building", you must be kidding :-).
French is very difficult (for me), but I often feel blessed not to have to learn German because it is probably even more difficult.

It's a pity that we don*t live closer. We could tandem up
(meeting and speaking half the time french with you being veryveryvery patient and half the time speaking German me being the native speaker).


Sacredartist said...

This was a very interesting article. I am not bi-cultural, and never learned a second language. I don't know if I really could as I am not really good at hearing sounds correctly and have problem just pronouncing English words after hearing them, even though that is my native tongue.
But this week I was watching a man speaking in a foreign language and a character generator interpreting his speech. The words went so fast I barely had time to read them and yet in other languages it would seem the person would say a mouth full and you would wait for the script to change. I am sure that it is up to the translator what you get...But I was thinking if you did have a language that was very concise and in which you could say what you meant in very few words. How many ideas you might be able to convey in a short amount of time or how many more ideas that culture would have because of it's language. Or just the opposite how a language could muddle ideas and keep people's thinking more blurred and obscured.
I am not as well read as I might like to be but it seems to me that we are using more words now in novels and saying less. If you read a classic it seems that the textures are rich and fully impregnated with meaning. When I read a popular novel I don't sense that richness and it irritates me, a little.
Well this was a long ramable. Sorry. I guess I just wanted to get some of my 3,000 words out. (they say that women have 1,000 or more words than men.)

Hélène H said...

Well you know , SacredArtist, English is actually a concise language. If you compare a French text with it's English translation (or the contrary), French is about 1/3 longer, it's very impressive...

I'm reading a book now written by an Australian about his life in India ("Shantaram"), and when I see the English phrases of his Indian friends, I can feel that the structure and concepts of Hindi language must be amazing.

You're so right about richness of texture in litterature !