Jump to content
Linguaholic

Are you a different person when you speak a foreign language?


Recommended Posts

I don't mean that literally of course, but do you feel... different when you speak a foreign language?

I've always felt that speaking another language slightly changed my personality - and mood. For some reason Spanish has an uplifting effect whenever I'm feeling down. When I speak English, I'm more self-confident than usual. I tend to me more critical towards everything when I speak French :P

And I've just found out that actually, it's not just my impression - research seems to prove those things! :) Look here:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117485/multilinguals-have-multiple-personalities

http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2015/03/speaking-second-language-may-change-how-you-see-world

Apparently, there's some evidence that speaking another language does change you in subtle but tangible ways. I find that very exciting.

Do you have similar experience? What's your opinion?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don`t think it really changes my personality. But it is definitely fun expressing my personality in a different language, because it sounds different. :D You have to use different jokes, for example, or you have to try and express emotions and ideas differently from what you were used to when speaking your mother tongue. I got really used to the differences, since I basically speak 4 languages since I was a kid, so I don`t really "feel" any different anymore. What I tend to do, though, is mixing up languages. Like, using a lot of English words when I speak Romanian for example.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a little bit reserved when I speak English when speaking to native speakers. I can speak English fine but I don't know some of the nuances or slang that would make me sound legit. When I speak my own language, I think I am more expressive and more confident. When I speak German.. I am easily flustered!! I'm sure that will improve when I progress with my learning. But I can see how your personality is affected when using a different language.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think for me it is just the confidence level. At times, I speak English so fast and fluently. But at times, I get a bit self-conscious especially when I talk with native English speakers. It is because I can never really catch their accent so when I do speak in their accent, I feel so unnatural and trying so hard to do it. However, when I am in my fluency mode, I feel so confident talking even to native speakers. I even get complimented for choosing the right term in my conversations or for having an enriched English vocabulary. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was going to say no but if I think more clearly I suppose I do. Maybe not to a large extent, but I think you do pick up on mannerisms that might be associated to the country that the language you are speaking comes from. If I speak a Romance language I use my hands a little bit more then I would if I was speaking a Germanic language. I think that when you learn a language you are not limited to the language itself, you also learn a bit of the culture and that shows when you speak.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

I am not a different person,

but the sound and deepness of my voice and the way I talk usually really changes as soon as I start to have a conversation in english. I just had been told this a few days ago, I was having a conversation in english with someone else while my friends were at the table talking to one of our old teacher, and they said it sounded nothing like me at all.

Maybe I just need more confidence to talk in english and thats why i change my voice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OMG @anna3101.....I LOVE your thread LOL We were actually discussing this just a few days ago, and really had fun with it. I have noticed it within myself, although I have a cousin who does seem to become a different person altogether. When I speak my native Setswana language, I'm a certain way, a little hard to explain,; while I feel more relaxed speaking English. My language tends to go around the houses and it's not always easy to express yourself exactly how you want to. I find English a lot less....cumbersome, I think is the word I'm looking for. Now for the curious case of my cousin, who's half English. She's very well spoken, as it stands, but my! we've noticed that when she speaks English her inner posh lady comes out with a vengeance LOL It's not just in her articulation, either. Suddenly you see her whole posture change and she's this English lady with poise. She doesn't believe it, but many of us within our family and even some of our friends have noticed it, so we can't all be wrong hehe We tease her about it all the time!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely. English is my second language now and although I'll probably won't claim that it's as good as my first, I feel just as comfortable speaking it as I do with my native. However, when I speak English, it's usually around people who I don't know or who I've just met so maybe that's the reason why I feel different when I speak it. I've been told this by my long time friends who claim I've had a "transformation" when I started speaking English and they feel like I'm a whole different (and unfortunately much more fun) person when I speak it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would totally say I am a different person when I speak a foreign language! I go from English to Japanese and I've had some people comment that my tone and voice changes when I switch languages. I'm thinking it's because in English, men have this voice thing where they adjust it based on who they are talking to. With Japanese, I don't put as much thought into changing my voice, so it comes off less deep I think.

When I make YouTube videos, my Japanese ones are more dynamic and fun, where my English ones are more serious and discussion-related. This can also be because I can discuss things more deeply in my native language, so I do. In Japanese, I try to get my main point across and move on.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course it changes you. Sometimes speaking in my mother tongue, I may feel less productive,almost close to not having enough self-confidence or maybe even not being very knowledgeable, though I can express myself with words pretty well. Strange feelings that do not really rely on any common sense, but they are still occurring and they are still slightly visible.

However, when I start speaking my  second language, which is English, I tend to gain a lot of self-confidence, that much that I could easily do some public speaking, which I would never even think of doing using my mother tongue. I am guessing that has to have something with the fact that your mother tongue is very closely related to you, and whatever you say in your native language just has some deeper meaning, and one just takes things closer to the heart, in a way. For example, for me saying 'Volim te', in my mother tongue is very hard to utter if I really do not have some deep feelings for someone; however, saying 'I love you' in English, to the same person, is way easier and just does not have the same deep meaning for me, as saying it in my native language does.

Apart from gaining some confidence while speaking English, I also express my creativity better -  I write better poetry, I write better prose.

Strange how language can change your personality.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In a way, yes.  Whenever I speak Nihongo, I am beginning to show some changes such as bowing more often.  In addition, I have a calm composure as well.  I also notice that some of my habits also change, such as being early when going to school or work.  My desire for learning has never been greater.  I value honor and integrity more than anything else.  On a personal level, I am both fascinated and intrigued by Japanese ethics and morals.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, pesic87 said:

For example, for me saying 'Volim te', in my mother tongue is very hard to utter if I really do not have some deep feelings for someone; however, saying 'I love you' in English, to the same person, is way easier and just does not have the same deep meaning for me, as saying it in my native language does.

I feel exactly the same way! "I love you" does not sound intimate or deep to me - probably because English is not my native language, so I only grasp the surface of the words. In Polish though, or in Russian, this is a sentence that I would never say without really meaning it with all my heart.

And the same goes for swear words. I really hate those but if I'm really really angry, I'm much more likely to let myself use them if I speak/write in English. In Polish and Russian I would feel really bad about anyone hearing it, so if I swear, I do it only in my own mind :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, pesic87 said:

For example, for me saying 'Volim te', in my mother tongue is very hard to utter if I really do not have some deep feelings for someone; however, saying 'I love you' in English, to the same person, is way easier and just does not have the same deep meaning for me, as saying it in my native language does.

I felt awkward just reading that. 'I love you' in English just kinda seems watered down now and it makes feel like there's no good enough phrase in English for when you truly have such strong feelings for someone. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a slight personality change with German, too. I'm a really shy and awkward person, but speaking in German makes me a bit more confident and assertive. Perhaps it is because of how powerful the language is? That is one of the reasons I love German so much; you really have to own what you're saying!

Link to post
Share on other sites

There was actually an article recently posted which I saw on Facebook and it said that even though we don't realize we are doing it when we speak another language, like the natives, our whole character changes with the language we are speaking. We take on culture traits and we impose them through speaking. Until I read about it I didn't realize I was doing it but next time you are having a conversation with someone think about what you would be saying if you were using your own language. 

 

It's actually a fact that our characteristics change to a certain point unconsciously when we speak another language which is not our mother tongue. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, agentzero said:

I felt awkward just reading that. 'I love you' in English just kinda seems watered down now and it makes feel like there's no good enough phrase in English for when you truly have such strong feelings for someone. 

Yes I can get your point. Nowadays it seems that everyone is saying 'I love you' to everyone, friends to friends, congregations in churches to their members. The expression has somehow lost its meaning, the depth it is supposed to carry. However, in my native language, saying that I love someone is still a hard thing to do..

I am guessing English is your native language, that is why you mentioned it. Do you guys say 'i love you' to each other often, and has it been leveled in meaning with for instance 'I like you' nowadays?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well for me depending on what language speak, determined how my personality slightly shifts along with the tone of voice...

French- When I start speaking whether in the accent or in the actual tounge, I sound like a grown woman who even though she's very sweet, she runs a tight business, with like atleast like 5 guys after her on a day to day basis...

Japanese- It's different with the accent vs the tounge... Cause when I speak using the accent I sound slightly like a geisha... But when I speak using the actual tounge, I sound wa~y younger than I need too... Like preteen young....

Chinese- I've been slightly lacking in my studies, so I can't 100% remember how I sound... So yeah...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...
The popup will be closed in 10 seconds...