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Some questions for those who are multilingual


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How many high fluency level languages can your brain handle?  How many languages have you studied and how many of them does your brain maintain at a time?

 

Also, in your experience, have their been certain languages that seem to choose you and draw you in more than other languages you've attempted to learn?  For instance, do you go for certain families of languages over others? 

 

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How many high fluency level languages can your brain handle?
I know 4 language fluently plus a few more languages I can only understand (not speak).
I've been considering to expand my linguistic knowledge to 3 more languages, but I think I'll make sure I polish my current languages more.
How much you can handle really depends on what YOU can handle, there's no set rule to how many languages you can learn.
Some learn only 1, some learn as much as 50 languages.

How many languages have you studied and how many of them does your brain maintain at a time?
Excluding my native languages, I have at least attempted to learn English, Japanese, German, Spanish, Mandarin, and Russian.
I can maintain English and Japanese really well, but German faded away rather quick, and I've never learnt the remaining 3 languages beyond the very basics.
This is all because I use English and Japanese every day, both in my free time and at work.
Meanwhile, I only need German once in a long time, meaning I don't read or hear any German for many months long, which resulted in me losing my German fluency and it's now a language I can understand only.

Also, in your experience, have their been certain languages that seem to choose you and draw you in more than other languages you've attempted to learn?
Yes, Spanish and Mandarin never really interested me as much, it was more like I wanted to learn them because of their usefulness rather than having a passion with them.

For instance, do you go for certain families of languages over others?
No, I never liked to learn similar languages.
If a given language is similar, you tend to skip a certain vocabulary you need to learn, because 'you already know it based on what you've learnt in the other language'.
As a result, you lose that word once you need to use it and either start mixing languages in a single sentence, or feel too awkward to say anything at all.

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Blaveloper, do you code switch a lot when you speak to people who know the same languages as you?  And what would you say your internal matrix language is?  The dominant language you think in and use to associate the other languages you know?  Is yours Polish?  Just curious about your experience if you're alternating between Polish, English, and Japanese often depending on who you're talking to?  If you use English and Japanese a lot those could be dominant languages for you. 

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Ah, you also like the videos from LangFocus? :)

Do you code switch a lot when you speak to people who know the same languages as you?
Depends.
When I talk to my little sister, I speak Dutch all the time, when I talk to my mother, I speak Polish all the time.
There are certainly people (mostly Polish guests who live in the Netherlands for a long time) to which I code switch with, depending on what they say.
And there's a guy on the chat app called "LINE" to which we often code switch between English and Japanese.

And what would you say your internal matrix language is?  The dominant language you think in and use to associate the other languages you know?  Is yours Polish?
Honestly, I don't have one.
I think in the 4 languages all the time, just not at the same time.
I occasionally need to think in English when I want to say something in Japanese, but for the most of the time, I use languages directly without any translation.

Just curious about your experience if you're alternating between Polish, English, and Japanese often depending on who you're talking to?
See question 1.

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I've learned from my language studies that there is only enough room for three high conversational level languages in my head at a time.  Any others I know besides the top three are unable to increase fluency and stay at a beginner level.  I've also learned that my brain despises Romance languages but loves Semitic languages.  I tried for years to learn Spanish and French, and recently tried to learn Italian,  but my brain rejected them in favor of learning advanced Yiddish and Hebrew.  At the moment I am trilingual in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish but at the expense of Spanish, French, Italian, and Arabic, all of which I tried to learn but they were driven out of my brain by becoming more fluent in the ones my brain does accept. 

 

It seems to me that Yiddish especially chose me and has become my dominant language, what I refer to in my head as Lashon Ha Baal (the master tongue) which is now the language I think in and dream in the most.  It's the language that comes the most naturally to me even more so than English, which is supposed to be my mother tongue as an American, but now my thoughts and dreams are mostly in Yiddish and it's currently battling my English for becoming the dominant language.  This seems foolish to me at some level because part of me wants to learn languages that are more useful for my life at current, such as Spanish or even Arabic, not a rare obscure secretive language like Yiddish, but it's the language that stays with me the most and my brain seems to want to function and perceive the world in mostly Yiddish, so I think my matrix language is changing. 

 

It has also opened the door for me to be able to understand and learn a lot of Hebrew and German.  With Hebrew as my third language, it stays in my head and regularly advances unlike any of the Romance languages, but my brain accepts it and is now accepting German also since Yiddish is after all at least 75% a Germanic language, and about 20% Hebrew, so as my master tongue it's bringing in a lot of knowledge about Hebrew and German which is also advancing my language skills.  I'm just very disappointed that I don't like Romance languages and they don't like me because they are more popular and more useful but it seems our brains relate to certain languages more than others and sometimes it's not a choice.  Yiddish being a gateway language to knowing so much Hebrew and German was not my first choice of which languages I wanted to learn, but my brain wants them and doesn't want the languages I think would be more useful. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 29.01.2017 at 11:03 PM, Mereloshn said:

I've learned from my language studies that there is only enough room for three high conversational level languages in my head at a time.  Any others I know besides the top three are unable to increase fluency and stay at a beginner level.  I've also learned that my brain despises Romance languages but loves Semitic languages.  I tried for years to learn Spanish and French, and recently tried to learn Italian,  but my brain rejected them in favor of learning advanced Yiddish and Hebrew.  At the moment I am trilingual in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish but at the expense of Spanish, French, Italian, and Arabic, all of which I tried to learn but they were driven out of my brain by becoming more fluent in the ones my brain does accept. 

 

It seems to me that Yiddish especially chose me and has become my dominant language, what I refer to in my head as Lashon Ha Baal (the master tongue) which is now the language I think in and dream in the most.  It's the language that comes the most naturally to me even more so than English, which is supposed to be my mother tongue as an American, but now my thoughts and dreams are mostly in Yiddish and it's currently battling my English for becoming the dominant language.  This seems foolish to me at some level because part of me wants to learn languages that are more useful for my life at current, such as Spanish or even Arabic, not a rare obscure secretive language like Yiddish, but it's the language that stays with me the most and my brain seems to want to function and perceive the world in mostly Yiddish, so I think my matrix language is changing. 

 

It has also opened the door for me to be able to understand and learn a lot of Hebrew and German.  With Hebrew as my third language, it stays in my head and regularly advances unlike any of the Romance languages, but my brain accepts it and is now accepting German also since Yiddish is after all at least 75% a Germanic language, and about 20% Hebrew, so as my master tongue it's bringing in a lot of knowledge about Hebrew and German which is also advancing my language skills.  I'm just very disappointed that I don't like Romance languages and they don't like me because they are more popular and more useful but it seems our brains relate to certain languages more than others and sometimes it's not a choice.  Yiddish being a gateway language to knowing so much Hebrew and German was not my first choice of which languages I wanted to learn, but my brain wants them and doesn't want the languages I think would be more useful. 

Each foreign language needs a permanent practice, it is true.

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