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What language does your mind think in?


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This is an interesting one. I asked my Swedish house-mate what language she thinks in. So when she is running through things in her mind, is it in Swedish or English?

She said that it's both and it's becoming more and more English, obviously because she lives here now.

So my question is, do you think in your mother tongue or in a different language?

I'm not talking about when you are learning, because when you're learning it is obviously in that language. I'm talking about day-to-day situations.

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It's still in Tagalog mostly. It's not too hard to think in Tagalog and then speak in English for me. When you use both regularly, it's quite easy to switch from one to another or even speak in a mix of both. In the Philippines, we have what we call "Taglish" which is a mixture of Tagalog and English.

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When I was still living in the Netherlands it was Dutch all of the time but having moved to the UK 5 years ago it's been mostly English. The only time I'll think in Dutch is when I'm either trying to think of a Dutch word, recalling memories from when I used to live in the Netherlands or when I have Dutch people visiting me and I'm speaking in Dutch.

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This is an extremely interesting question, so far I hadn't stopped to think about it... I think I still think in spanish mostly.  I also dream in that language often, sometimes I do it in english.  I use english the whole day actually, so I'm surprised I'm not thinking in english that much.  Sometimes when I try to speak in spanish I say a couple of words in english, then I remember I'm talking to my ma  :grin: 

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This is an interesting one. I asked my Swedish house-mate what language she thinks in. So when she is running through things in her mind, is it in Swedish or English?

She said that it's both and it's becoming more and more English, obviously because she lives here now.

So my question is, do you think in your mother tongue or in a different language?

I'm not talking about when you are learning, because when you're learning it is obviously in that language. I'm talking about day-to-day situations.

I am happy to see that you are currently learning Swedish! I thought I was the only one here (not learning, but speaking) =).

To answer your question - my situation is like your Swedish friend's. Normally, when I am home in Sweden, and mostly engaging in Swedish conversations, my thoughts are in Swedish. When I am in school, which is in English, my thoughts are mostly in English.

I am in Turkey now, and most of my conversations are in English. I still tend to think in Swedish when I am alone, but when I am with others, English is more the language running through my head.

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Well, I'm not an immigrant, but I still think in English pretty often. I think it's because I read/write in English a lot. Most of the time I think in Polish, obviously. I hope that one day I'll also think in Japanese and maybe in some more languages too!  :laugh:

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This is an extremely interesting question, so far I hadn't stopped to think about it... I think I still think in spanish mostly.  I also dream in that language often, sometimes I do it in english.  I use english the whole day actually, so I'm surprised I'm not thinking in english that much.  Sometimes when I try to speak in spanish I say a couple of words in english, then I remember I'm talking to my ma  :grin:

This is what I find the strangest I think. When you think you think (lol) in one particular language most of the time, yet you speak, read and write in a different one. The brain can do some weird and wonderful things!

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Guest isabbbela

My mind flows from Portuguese (my native language) to English all the time. Sometimes I'l think in Portuguese, other times I'll think in English.

When I was living in the US (went to do an internship in California), I guess my mind was mostly on English mode. Right when I came back to Brazil my mom would wake me up and I would reply in English.

Now that I'm living in Brazil again I guess I went back to Portuguese mode, but I still think in English sometimes! I also speak a lot of English at work, so I will probably go back and forth with them forever..

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When I was in college and had Spanish classes every day, I would find that I would talk to myself in Spanish. Despite that, I always would translate on the fly by thinking of what I wanted to say in English then translating it to Spanish. This obviously delayed me, but I found it easier to think in my native tongue.

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Chinese is my native language. The only difference in Chinese is that it divides into several sub-languages. For example, I speak both Cantonese and Mandarin. I grew up learning Mandarin, but I speak Cantonese fluently because I grew up in Southern area. English is my second language, but it's the language my mind thinks in because my Chinese is getting broken ever since I came to United States.

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Guest akasha24

This is an interesting topic because even though I was born in Hungary, I think and feel in English. I grew up in London and only moved back to Hungary at age 13. I write and read better in English and I also write my songs in English, I cannot write songs in Hungarian. :)

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When I am talking to my friends (who are usually Filipinos), I think in Filipino. But when it comes to work, I always think and talk in English.

The grammar of both English and Filipino are different so if you think in Filipino and then translate that thought in English, you're gonna have a bad time. haha :)

Same as with Japanese and Korean.  :tongue:

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@mccanono: That's very interesting. I haven't really thought about the structural differences between English and Tagalog although it does come up I guess when someone tries to literally translate English.

I think with our culture, it's not really hard to switch from one to another, especially those who are more exposed to English. I don't even think most people who speak in English think in Tagalog and literally do translations in their mind. It's kind of more fluid, I guess.

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  • 3 months later...

Yeah it's a really interesting question for a number of reasons. I think a lot of it is to do with how conscious our own thought process is to ourselves. I'd say I think in English, but I think it just emotions and visuals, and then when I think about what I think about I translate it into English.

So in my opinion, using language in this context is just the "translation" of thought rather than the thought itself, which I think is touched upon in 1984

when they change the dictionary in order to change people's perceptions.

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Naturally one will think in the language they use most.

But then people relate more to real experiences so your best memories would also dictate the language you think in if you're one of those fellas who dwell on the past. So I guess if you speak more than one language, your mind can use any of those languages [to be precise, the one which best suitss the purpose].

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My mind thinks in multiple languages. Either English or my native languages; Filipino, and Ilocano. It really depends upon the person I'm talking to. Most of the time when the subject is English I think in English and vice versa.

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