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Author Topic: Angry languages  (Read 3465 times) Average Rating: 0
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zebu
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« on: May 10, 2008, 07:54:05 PM »

When I get upset, angry, sad, frustrated, drunk, or just really tired, my mind starts thinking in French and sometimes I even speak to people in French without realizing that it isn't English until they don't understand me. I guess this would make sense if French was my first language, but it isn't! I have been speaking French most of my life though; I began learning when I was 4.  So, it isn't a chore for me to speak or anything, but still, it's odd that when I am really emotional, I automatically switch to French.  Does this happen to anyone else? Just curious...

This also raises questions for me about languages and the workings of the human brain...Does anyone know more about how language is related to how we think?  My own grandmother eventually forgot her native language as after she left home at age 18, she was never in an environment where it was spoken again.  That is odd, I think.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2008, 07:56:37 PM by zebu » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2008, 09:17:30 PM »

When I get upset, angry, sad, frustrated, drunk, or just really tired, my mind starts thinking in French and sometimes I even speak to people in French without realizing that it isn't English until they don't understand me. I guess this would make sense if French was my first language, but it isn't! I have been speaking French most of my life though; I began learning when I was 4.  So, it isn't a chore for me to speak or anything, but still, it's odd that when I am really emotional, I automatically switch to French.  Does this happen to anyone else? Just curious...

This also raises questions for me about languages and the workings of the human brain...Does anyone know more about how language is related to how we think?  My own grandmother eventually forgot her native language as after she left home at age 18, she was never in an environment where it was spoken again.  That is odd, I think.

The linguists I know would say it is impossible to forget one's native language. It can go dormant but it will always come back given the right circumstances. Don't know if that is true though or a debatable point. Any linguists want to comment?
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zebu
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2008, 11:53:21 PM »

Well...then maybe "forget" isn't exactly the correct term. My grandma couldn't recall any of her first language off hand at the age of 84, but maybe if she were in the right environment it would have come back. It's hard to say.  Not many opportunities to speak Scottish Gaelic in America.
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2008, 01:04:38 AM »

There is a scientific term for speaking in a tongue (or tongues) - glossolalia.
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2008, 01:58:13 AM »

The linguists I know would say it is impossible to forget one's native language. It can go dormant but it will always come back given the right circumstances. Don't know if that is true though or a debatable point. Any linguists want to comment?
I'm no liguist, but I think you really can forget certain words when you're living in another country that speaks a different language.  My girlfriend has lived here for about 2.5 years and has forgotten some words already.  Who knows, in another 25 years, if she doesn't speak Romanian to anyone, maybe she will forget it.  I doubt that will happen because when we're married and have children, she wants to teach them Romanian.  Probably so they can laugh at their goofy dad. Tongue Cheesy
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2008, 10:38:20 PM »

when I get angry I tend to revert back to my native language (Serbian).  However, in random conversation I tend to drift back and forth between several languages. 

Also, I believe that German is definitely the most "harsh" sounding language, and one that definitely sounds angry... Grin Grin
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2008, 10:50:00 PM »

When I get angry I usually find myself speaking in Arabic, and Arabic is not my native language, but my parents'.

I remember listening to a stand-up Arab comedian who related to his story of his uncle in Jordan cussing in English because God only knows Arabic.
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2008, 10:58:03 PM »


I remember listening to a stand-up Arab comedian who related to his story of his uncle in Jordan cussing in English because God only knows Arabic.

I know the concept.  In the sub-culture my mom and her family come from, you use Turkish when cussing.  It's like that somehow makes it extra bad.  Also, Armenian is too "clean" a language to use it for bad expressions.   Smiley  Whatever.  That doesn't stop my mom from using a few choice words in Armenian sometimes. 
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2008, 02:32:40 AM »

Greek is a beautiful language for cursing and praising lol and my grandfather used to show God bless his soul.
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2008, 11:20:49 AM »

Very interesting, Zebu!

I am bilingual (Ukrainian-Russian), and I, too, find myself preferentially speak one of these two languages in particular situations (be it speaking aloud or thinking). Cussing, indeed, works "better" in Russian than in Ukrainian. On the other hand, speaking tenderly to wife or child or pet works better in Ukrainian.
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2008, 11:41:08 AM »

The linguists I know would say it is impossible to forget one's native language. It can go dormant but it will always come back given the right circumstances. Don't know if that is true though or a debatable point. Any linguists want to comment?

While I'm not a linguist, I did study linguistics during my studies in anthropology for my undergrad.  The idea that you'll never truly forget one's native tongue is very strong, but it's very possibly to temporarily forget how to speak it if one does not use it readily.  My German teacher in high school spent a considerable amount of time in Germany  after graduating from college and managed to not speak or even read English for almost four years.  She met some American tourists on a train at one point and they refused to believe she was an American because she had trouble speaking English with ease.  She actually likened it to what it must feel like for her son, who has autism.  It was very frustrating because she knew what to say but it just wasn't coming out properly and once you lose that confidence you tend to "forget" more.

Vocabularly, of course, are different than knowing how to speak a language and it's entirely possible to forget words through disuse.  Popular theory still holds, though, that they're still in your brain somewhere and can be accessed through continued use.  I would bet that if zebu's grandmother, for instance, was given something to read in Scottish Gaelic that she would understand it after a read through a few times even if she previously couldn't remember many of the words in the article offhand.  I tend to do that regarding German.  I don't use it nearly enough to carry on a conversation with someone but if some reading material in German is put in front of me I can usually get through it pretty easily.  Of course, if I actually read the Suedeutsche Zeitung everyday, I'd probably be alot more capable auf Deutsch.
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2008, 06:06:10 PM »

^I grew up in a family where parents and grandparents were equals as far as the time and effort in taking care of me were concerned; and my granddad spoke only Ukrainian to me, while my two grandmothers and two parents spoke only Russian. When I was in ~7th grade, my granddad suddenly switched in his conversations with me to his very poor, erratic Russian (it was in the early 1970's when the Soviet government in UKraine started a crackdown campaign on the "Ukrainian nationalism," many Ukrainian-speaking intellectuals were imprisoned and my gramps probably just freaked out). So, beginnig from the age of ~13 till the age of ~24, all the way through my senior secondary school years, and my university years, I never spoke Ukrainian (other than during the Ukrainian language and literature classes at school) and never heard it spoken to me... Yet, I kept reading Ukrainian - we had wonderful Ukrainian translations of the Western classics, published in literary magazines like "Dinpro" and "Vsesvit." And then, in the graduate school, I met my wife who was from a Western Ukrainian family of staunch resisters to Russification, devout Ukrainian speakers. And she tried to speak Ukrainian to me, and I... bit the bait. And it went so smoothly, and so naturally.And we still speak only Ukrainian to each other, and to our daughter. Now, the only time I speak Russian is when I talk on the phone to my mom, once a week, on Saturdays, for about 30 minutes.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2008, 06:09:45 PM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2008, 10:07:47 PM »

Heorhij, how different is Russian from Ukrainian? Are they still mutually intelligible?

Are they more different, than say, English spoken in Minnesota vs. Mississippi?  Grin
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2008, 10:45:09 PM »

Also, I believe that German is definitely the most "harsh" sounding language, and one that definitely sounds angry... Grin Grin

Obviously you've never heard Malayalam.  It can compete.   
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