Bilingualism – “Ich speak Denglish”

One language rant down for today, here’s the second one inspired by a conversation I had today after being asked if I took all my notes for Light in English or in my native German.

The answer: I’m writing in English, so my notes are in English. If you ask me which language is easier for me, I really can’t give you a good answer, probably because both languages are pretty close to me, even though I only learned English at school and haven’t been in either England or America until November 2006.

Blame it on a really good (sometimes even creepy ;)) memory and a natural affinity for languages, but I guess I’m not bragging when I’m saying that I’m pretty dang good at learning languages. Always have been (‘kay now I am bragging, sorry ’bout that. Eigenlob stinkt, so to say…)

Anyway, being bilingual like I am now, living in the USA after having spent the first 20 years of my life solely in Germany is an interesting thing. It also is confusing sometimes.

Take the question whether I’m thinking or dreaming in German or in English for example. The answer: It depends. I guess right now I’m primarily thinking English, given that I’m spending my day talking a lot of English on the phone, being married to an American, living in America…you get the picture.

Anyway, it’s really funny to see how German me ended up speaking English so well. I started it in 5th grade at school and then just kept going from there. I always liked languages and in 8th grade I started to pick up English books. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was my first one and it took me a while to get through that, but after that I just kept going, because it was fun and also kinda cool. So after a while I almost didn’t read any German books at all anymore and would just keep buying the English originals (most of them fantasy,ย  who might have guessed).

I didn’t really talk much English until like 11th grade or so. I used to be rather shy about talking to any native English speaker, just because I thought it must sound so totally stupid to them, but then again once started I just kept going. Online, I made many English-speaking French and used it there and at school every day, also starting to work with international organizations, exchange programs etc. It got to the point when I was almost speaking more English daily than German.

There were some funny incidents too, like once when I was still able to drink alcohol at parties now and then and probably had a little too much that one time (ya know ;)) and started talking English to the bemusement of my friends or another time when I was packing to fly to America and was on the phone with Stephen. It was hilarious when he told me to pick a language as I was talking to myself in English as well as in German.

When my parents came here to visit as well as when I’m on the phone with them or with friends from back there it’s quite funny because I keep mixing English words like “anyway”, “whatever”, “like”, “you know” etc. into my German. Seriously, people back home must thing my German got so bad ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s one side-effect of being bilingual and mixing up languages.

I guess I’ll make a pretty good German teacher though, considering that that’s what I’ve been planning all along. Alea iacta sunt, so to say ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wish I was able to speak my other languages (Latin, Spanish, Italian, French and Anchient Greek) as well as I speak English. Latin probably comes close, but then again you can’t actually “speak” Latin as it is. Too bad, really ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well at least I can use them well enough in my writing. Cheers for that!

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