With regards to my last post, which was an introduction to my thoughts on being multilingual, Mr. H. (who reads all my posts), said to me: I don’t get it, what was the conclusion to your post?
My answer: Well, there was none. There wasn’t supposed to be any. It was just an introduction about my background, so that it’s clear how I came to be multilingual.
Then I realised that I only want to write my personal thoughts on being multilingual. It’s not as if I’ve made a scientific study rounding up 3500 people, measuring different parameters, making statistics and charts, making any conclusion on intellectual capacities or anything like that. It’s not a case of me reading 20 scientific and sociologic articles and writing a review with my conclusions. I’m not sure I will be concluding with anything.
The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Therefore, taking into account that I was practically born speaking more than one language, here we go, here are some of my thoughts:
When I learn a new language, I can pronounce it better. I read an article once (aha! so I am including the message of an article here) where the author had observed that his 2 year old son was able to make practically all of the sounds from many languages in the world. He could do the French R, the Spanish R, the English R. He could make sounds from Arabic or Dutch. And so on. But as you grow, your mouth adapts itself to one language and one accent, so the older you get, the less flexible you are in making new kinds of sounds.
I properly started speaking Spanish a little later on in life. But because I had always spoken more than one language, my Spanish accent is not truly an English accent – if you know what I mean. It’s not a real Spanish accent either, but the Englishness to it is very smooth. Most Spaniards will detect a small something that makes my accent not from Spain, but there is no way to pinpoint where it derived from either.
On finding the right words
Often when I’m talking to someone, the perfect word, saying or phrase will occur to me in a language that I’m not speaking in at that moment. It’s very frustrating because then I can’t think of anything just as good to say to put my point across.
Probably as a result of this, when I speak to friends that are also multilingual and speak the same language as me, I (or we) have a tendency to just mix words from different languages in the same conversation. Or worse, in the same sentence. Mr. H. hates it when I do this.
On broadening your way of thinking
Being native in different languages, it is inevitable that at work I’ve had to be the official translator for many documents. I instantly realised that to try and put the message through as faithful as possible, literal translations are usually impossible. Different languages sometimes express the same concept differently. This widens your way of thinking, sort of like in the same way as travelling and seeing new cultures.
Those are my thoughts for now. If I have anymore, or want to ever make a conclusion, I’ll do a Part III post for it. If you have any conclusions or thoughts, please share them in the comments.
Beef Noodle Soup Recipe
It seems I haven’t posted an oriental style recipe for ages. Here is a simple beef noodle soup I made recently.
Ingredients (for 2 servings)
400g beef, 2 scallions, 2cm piece ginger, noodles, salt, black pepper, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, dried chili flakes
Heat the sesame oil in a large pot. Cook the beef for a few minutes, not so that it’s totally cooked, we don’t want to lock the beef flavour inside it. Add 4 cups water. Chop the ginger and scallions into little pieces. Add the salt, black pepper, ginger and scallions, keeping some of the greener pieces of the scallions to decorate on top later on. Cook for about 30 minutes. Add more water if too much has evaporated. Add some noodles and cook for about 5 minutes.
Serve in a bowl. Sprinkle the green scallion pieces and some chili flakes.