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Time to tune-out public static?

  Tags: Listening
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
13 messages over 2 pages: 1
Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
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 Message 9 of 13
07 August 2012 at 4:15pm | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:
Maybe not quite the same (thinking of Gg's post), but I've heard that truly bilingual
people can get into a situation where they are not conscious of which language they are
speaking.

(Not sure if this is an urban myth though).


I wouldn't call myself truly bilingual, but that happens to me sometimes.

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geoffw
Triglot
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United States
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 Message 10 of 13
07 August 2012 at 8:06pm | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:
Maybe not quite the same (thinking of Gg's post), but I've heard that truly bilingual
people can get into a situation where they are not conscious of which language they are
speaking.

(Not sure if this is an urban myth though).


Yes, as emk said, I at least frequently forget what language I heard/spoke something in. I've also found myself not realizing what language I'm listening to at the moment, even though I understand it. I can't say as I've had any issues knowing what I was speaking, while I was speaking, however.

I listen to lectures that may be in Yiddish, discussing a text that was written partially in Hebrew and partially in Aramaic, and various words are similar or identical across two or three of these languages. The lecturer will rapidly switch back and forth, translating words or phrases on the fly, launching without warning into commentary in Yiddish or a quote in Hebrew, using certain words without translating them, etc. After a while, I get tuned in, but I think I have to tune my brain to a special "frequency" that isn't really any one disctinct language but includes all of the above, to some extent.

That's when I'll find myself listening to something and realizing that I'm understanding, but without any current sense of exactly what language is being spoken at any one time.
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Serpent
Octoglot
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Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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 Message 11 of 13
07 August 2012 at 10:51pm | IP Logged 
geoffw wrote:
I have to tune my brain to a special "frequency" that isn't really any one disctinct language but includes all of the above, to some extent.
I think keeping your brain at this frequency is the key to avoiding interference. At least when it comes to written text, mine is pretty much always at this frequency while reading twitter, for example.
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tristano
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Netherlands
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Speaks: Italian*, Spanish, French, English
Studies: Dutch

 
 Message 12 of 13
28 January 2014 at 11:14pm | IP Logged 
Last summer, I took a flight to go to Italy and go to the mountain to snowboarding (yes, summer! more than
3000mt). In the morning I woke up and I went to the lunch room to have breakfast. I was quite tired for the travel...
so I was not 100% awake let's say :D So, I entered the room and I heard the people talking a language but I was not
able to recognise which language it was... after few seconds I realised that it was Italian and I was trying to tune my
ears to English!

Today I mixed Italian, English, French and Dutch in a single sentence, but I didn't notice it in first instance.

It happens often, between Italian colleagues, specially in presence of non-italian speakers, that we totally mix Italian
and English, like: someone says something in English but the other one answer in Italian, than it happens that he
uses some English words and switches to English. But most of the time who is talking is not even aware of the fact. It
just happens.
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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Denmark
berejst.dk
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 Message 13 of 13
29 January 2014 at 10:05am | IP Logged 
I wouldn't say that I forget which language I'm speaking, but sometimes I don't think about it, and sometimes I forget which languages others know (or don't know). Like when I travelled around in South Africa last year with a group where at least half the members were Germans - they even had a German-speaking guide. Out main guide understood a host of African languages plus English, but not German. And at least once I forgot to switch to English after a conversation in German with the Germans.

But this has preciously little to do with the other claims: 1)that polyglots need time to identify a language spoken in their vicinity because they know too many, 2) that polyglots and other language learners sometime spend time on evaluating preposterous theories about the languages they hear around them instad of just recognizing that the thing they hear is something they know.

My answer would be that even if either 1 or 2 or both were true it wouldn't matter, because you become more adept at understanding semi-comprehensible stuff when you have been through the learning process with a number of languages. The only case where a monolingual speaker would have an advantage would be if (s)he decided to eavesdrop on people speaking the same language - and maybe even the same dialect.

Edited by Iversen on 29 January 2014 at 4:42pm



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