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#151835 12/09/05 02:08 PM
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Logwood's passing reference to the English language's becoming his "thinking language" is absolutely fascinating. I cannot imagine what kind of mental processes I'd have to go through to be able to change my internal language. Perhaps the ability to do so is age-relatec; perhaps it has something to do with one's learning two languages together.

For Logwood:

How old were you when this happened? Did you learn Hebrew and English concurrently? Is it difficult to think in English and then sort of automatically translate to Hebrew while speaking.

For others who might be interested in discussing this:

If you sitched your thinking language from one to another, how old were you when you did so? Why did you do so? Does it hamper your communcation in any way? For instance, when holding a conversation in your "old language" do you internally translate from old to new, then formulate a response in new and translate it to old for speaking? Seems very cumbersome to me. Or do you switch your thinking language sort of automatically.

I am certain this phenomenon (though of course it isn't really a phenomenon except to me because I'ver never heard of it before) would be more prevalent where people routinely speak several languages, something that isn't at all common in the US, unless you call Southern a language .

AH! Another question: Do you find yourself mixing the two languages, either in thinking or in speaking. Here I'm thinking about languages like Tagalog which as I undestand it is a mixture of several tongues.


TEd
#151836 12/09/05 02:16 PM
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Changing the language you think in, at least on some level (I don't know about deep grammatical structures, if that is relevant), isn't uncommon. I did this by choice, when I lived in Germany, as part of the exercise of acquiring the language. I think most people keep their native tongue for math. I did not, but my math skills are less than rudimentary, so this probably wasn't very different from other kinds of thinking. What seems unusual in Logwoods case is that, if I understood right, he adopted English as his "internal" language even though he was in a Hebrew-speaking environment.

#151837 12/09/05 07:55 PM
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That's correct, inselpeter.

Of course I can't pin an exact age when it started happening, it was more of a gradual process as you can imagine. The more I understood and practiced English, the more it took over me. At some point (by the age of 17-18, or alternatively 2-3 years ago), it surpassed my Hebrew (as I never took into Hebrew studies to answer your second question). Nowadays, in fact, I can read English books more easily than Hebraic ones!

Quote:

Is it difficult to think in English and then sort of automatically translate to Hebrew while speaking.




Oftentimes yes. It's actually very inhibitive, because you can't say what is straight off your mind, and it definitely makes communication less fluent (and you might even say cumbersome). In a way I'm my own translator - imagine that!

Quote:

Do you find yourself mixing the two languages, either in thinking or in speaking.




In thinking I differentiate Hebrew and English, and, even though rarely, I still happen to think in Hebrew. But I hope to suppress this nasty old habit completely one day.

In speaking-- only if I talk to those who I know understand English, then I often mix the languages.


Edit: A lot of times I find myself translating what people say from Hebrew to English, just for fun and for practice.

Last edited by Logwood; 12/09/05 08:01 PM.
#151838 12/09/05 10:07 PM
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This all reminds me of a 1982 Clint Eastwood movie called "FireFox" where he steals a prototype Soviet jet-plane in which he can only operate certain controls by thinking in Russian.

#151839 12/09/05 11:40 PM
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So he crashed where, exactly?


TEd
#151840 12/10/05 03:16 PM
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this is interesting. i only know english, but i can think in knitting, (and design, and think out complex knitting patterns (sometimes in several colors) and 'knit them on the fly' (i don't need to write down what i am doing, or when or where.. i can just look at each stitch as it 'comes up' and know what color or stitch its should be--

knitting is very binary, (and helped me understand computers) I taught my son binary at a young age, and he learned to think in binary. he can add, subtract and multipy in binary (mental!) i can add and subtract (on paper, making little tic marks for the carries) and can do simple multiplication (up to 4 times table in binary (again on paper) but i slow down, (and make more mistakes) above that. I certainly don't think (fluently) in binary.

Do musicians (or just composers?) think in music? are there other ways of thinking besides linguisticly and mathmatically? (thinking knitting is some what mathmatical)

#151841 12/10/05 03:54 PM
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I'm not sure that folks think in language. Maybe, maybe not. Are dreams linguistic? Or knitting or music as of troy asks? How are memories stored in the brain? As small stories? or movies? or something else entirely?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
#151842 12/10/05 03:58 PM
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When I lived in Mexico (between the ages of 20 and 31), completely immersed in Spanish, I thought in Spanish and even dreamed in Spanish. If I was living in a border town, I spoke Spanglish to those who were bilingual. At times, while speaking to my family by phone or on my visits home in the summers, I would sometimes search for the word I wanted in English, my first language. I could easily think of the word I wanted in Spanish, but struggled for the English equivalent. There were certain concepts that had a single word in Spanish but required a paragraph to explain in English and vice versa. That's what I loved about Spanglish. You pick and choose from whichever more completely describes what you want to say. I tend to think of myself having an internal translator. Most of the time it is running smoothly in the background but at times it becomes unstable and I am an unwilling victim of the blue screen of death in the mind! Rebooting is the only solution, but by then, it's a little late to save me.

Last edited by consuelo; 12/10/05 04:04 PM.
#151843 12/10/05 04:04 PM
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Do musicians (or just composers?) think in music?

Yes... well, sorta!

I've done a lot of harmonic analysis in my *day(s) and because of it, as I listen to a song, I (often) catch myself thinking about what the (diatonic) function of each chord is as it is being played. It is a skill originally developed to make it easy(er) to transcribe music, but often turns what was conceived as form into a function... not that those are in any way, shape or *form mutually exclusive, but.

#151844 12/10/05 04:41 PM
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I'm a native speaker of Spanish and I live in Spain, where I teach in English. I don't think I have a "thinking language", but rather two distinct sets of linguistic paradigms to express whatever I'm thinking. For me there's no effort involved in using either of the two languages, so I don't think I'm "thinking" in one and then translating to the other, unless this is happening at some level that I can't be conscious of.

I think it depends on the context. I speak English normally with my English-language friends and colleagues, but express myself in Spanish elsewhere. In the classroom with my Spanish students I can switch between the two without a break. When as a kid I was living abroad with my family, my sister and I were schooled in English and as a result we'd speak together in English or Spanish as the whim took us.

One thing I rarely do, however, is code-switching. I can switch between languages, but not really in the middle of a sentence or a turn of speech. The most interesting example of this I have ever come across is people from Gibraltar, who'll speak English or Spanish, or a curious mixture of the two among themselves.

A funny thing that happens, though, is that although apparently I can keep Spanish and English totally separate, this is not so with English and my third language, French, which I'm not as proficient in. For some disconcerting reason, I speak French with an English accent, which is plain weird for someone who learnt French in Spain.

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