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I'm german and think English when I've been speaking it say, over a day. Sometimes I even can't come up with the proper german words anyway, English is more comfortable sorta...

I know that feeling (the bit I bolded) all too well. :lol:

My thoughts are a mix of German and English... German, being my native tongue, still is somewhat more common, all in all, but I think (and talk to myself) in English quite a lot indeed.

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kimona2015

I'm fairly fluent in Spanish and English (not as a native speaker, of course). When I'm reading something in either of these languages I sometimes think in them. Spanish is more playful, to ,my taste, Sometimes, when I'm talking or reading in Spanish, I feel my personality shifting a bit, I feel more emotional and energetic. English is for me the language of dry irony and logical conclusions.

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kimona2015

(If I ever come across a point in my thinking where I don't know a word in French, I will genuinely think the word in English in a French accent. This doesn't happen too often but it vaguely amuses me when it does.) Sounds terrific! I like the idea of hearing oneself think (I guess I sometimes hear the tone of speaking when I'm sort of thinking something in whole sentences, but thinking with an accent is a whole other level

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kimona2015
To Rising Sun

I often use the shortest or most accurate word coming from both languages and that creates quite a monstrous "Frankenstein" language in my head, and not only in my head sometimes as I might accidentally speak like that IRL :D I know other bilingual persons who do it as well. * Yes, I see what you mean

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Merperson

I think in either Russian, Lithuanian or English depending mostly on the situation, mood and the weather :P But usually I just think in all three messily mushed together :blush: :D

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Robin L

I can think in Chinese, English, and German. Sometimes I don't even know which language I'm speaking (oops). However, there are some cases where I can only use one language. I can only count in Chinese, and I express my feelings better in English.

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`Silver

I can technically speak four, but I'm too rusty in French and Spanish to do anything significant with them :P

I grew up speaking Italian, but English has been part of my life since the age of 10 and I did (still do) plenty of self-training and self-learning. I can think in either of the two languages depending on the one I'm using at the present time. As in, if I talk to people in real life I'll usually be thinking in Italian, whereas on AVEN I think in English.

Or sometimes I just think in English and I can't find the Italian word. :huh:

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Notte stellata

I can only count in Chinese

Wow, I'm very similar in that regard. Thinking in English is pretty automatic for me expect when I'm dealing with numbers. I need to either translate them into Chinese or think about the Arabic numerals to make sense of them.

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XYZ96

Sometimes I don't even know which language I'm speaking (oops).

:lol: I've had that happen, it happens especially when I'm super tired.

I once went to look for some CD with friends and I found the CD, I was trying to tell them, but they just looked at me confused until after a few minutes they finally decided to tell me I was speaking english (I just got back to Germany and had a bad jetlag...)

another thing I've noticed is when people talk in my dreams sometimes they'll start a sentence in one language and end it in another...

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Autumn Season

Just a stray thought I had.

As a kid I remember asking myself what languages other people thought in. Logically seeing as I am British and my first language is English, I speak and think in English; so it would make sense for other people (say, a German person) to think in whatever language is their first (i.e. German).

But what of bi- and multilingual people?

I would assume that unless fluent in another language, you would continue to think in your first. But is that true?

My first language is Russian, I lived most of my life in Germany and I learned a couple of languages along the way.

As a child I thought in Russian (duh, that's the only language I knew), after a couple of years in German elementary school I started thinking in German. This continued until I went to China where I thought in Chinese, despite not knowing the language very well and currently my thoughts are in English due to the use of the English internet.

The language I talked, heard and read in always influenced the language I used in my thoughts. For example right after French class, I would have a couple of French thoughts before I switched. If I went to Japanese class the night before attending Spanish class in the morning, then my thoughts would be in Japanese still and I would not be able to switch the language in order to talk in Spanish, while at the same time being perfectly able to understand Spanish when hearing and reading it.

A funny thing I noticed, concerns counting: I never stopped mentally counting in Russian. That's true even though I never went to school in Russia. Go figure.

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argar

This topic reminded me of the differences between language, but also thought.

In speaking two different languages do we also think in two different philosophies?

I thought this article was interesting in examining different schools of thought:

http://www.differencebetween.net/science/differences-between-eastern-and-western-philosophy/

I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

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Rising Sun

I didn't manage to read the article (the link doesn't load). But now I speak and think in a more "international" way than I did when I spoke only my native language. I don't choose quite the same words, my humor isn't quite the same... And to the point where it influenced the way I speak in my native language too, and even made me start to judge some negative things about my own culture. As a result, I now notice that I don't make friends with the same persons as before, I now meet much nicer people, so I guess it was a really positive change in the way I think and behave that had this result.

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Notte stellata

There are studies that found bilingual people think somewhat differently when speaking different languages. For example, when Russian-English bilinguals talk about an event regarding their group, they use "we" more often when speaking Russian, and use "I" more often when speaking English, because English-speaking cultures are more individualistic than Russian culture. There are also tons of studies on how the languages we speak influence our thoughts, arithmetic abilities, object categorization, and perceptions of colors, directions, time, etc. Search for "linguistic relativity" if you're interested.

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Plectrophenax

Very interesting topic.

I'm bilingual in the sense that my grandparents and my father [british themselves] taught me English while growing up, and in the sense that I speak it whenever they were/are around. But it's far less dominant than my Swiss German, simply because I utilise it less. It can, however, occur that I think in English after reading a lot in English, but that doesn't always happen and tends to be limited to when I try and formulate phrases I intend to write down.

But being Swiss [German], I speak in essentially a different language than I write [which would be High German or the Swiss standardised German], yet I do not recall ever thinking in Swiss German, but always in High German. Even though it's the language used for writing, it is also used fairly early on for speaking, especially in 'formal' contexts like school, and I remember that we were expected to speak High German in class from first grade onwards. It tends to be quite easy to learn for most, but I'm sure there must have been some stage where I thought in Swiss German or English before that - I simply don't remember. So, for whatever reason, German stuck to me as my 'mental language' even though it's the language I speak the most rarely [but write the most often].

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Queen Under the Mountain

I didn't manage to read the article (the link doesn't load). But now I speak and think in a more "international" way than I did when I spoke only my native language. I don't choose quite the same words, my humor isn't quite the same... And to the point where it influenced the way I speak in my native language too, and even made me start to judge some negative things about my own culture. As a result, I now notice that I don't make friends with the same persons as before, I now meet much nicer people, so I guess it was a really positive change in the way I think and behave that had this result.

But do you think that change in behaviour happened only because of the language or because as a bilingual you have access to more information, knowledge and can understand people's point of view about your country and culture? Do you think if everybody in your country had access to exact the same information you have, wouldn't they be different?

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Queen Under the Mountain

This topic reminded me of the differences between language, but also thought.

In speaking two different languages do we also think in two different philosophies?

I thought this article was interesting in examining different schools of thought:

http://www.differencebetween.net/science/differences-between-eastern-and-western-philosophy/

I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

I do think language can influence our thoughts but this article isn't a good example of it. It links our Western philosophy with Christianity and Judaism, but both religions were created in the East, so the difference can't lie in Eastern languages vs Western languages when it comes to religions.

I once read somewhere that Germany has so many great philosophers because the German language has fewer synonyms when compared to other languages, which make the language more accurate and clear, two key qualities when it comes to understanding and explaining a complex idea. I believe this is a way language can influence our thoughts.

It also have the emotional factor. Like I said in my first post, when I want to think logically about something emotionally strong, I tend to think in English not because it is a more logical language but because it gives me a sense of distance from the subject, since Portuguese is my "emotional language".

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argar

To be honest what intrigued me most was the idea that thinking individually is drastically different in some respects to thinking communally.

I read somewhere else that in testing, these forms of thinking about the world change the how a question can be interpreted.

The one example I kind of remember: Cow, Cat, Grass and Worm. Which doesn't belong?

In thinking communally, the answer would be Cat because there is an interconnecting relationship between the other three.

In thinking individually the answer would be Grass because it belongs in the flora category.

I just meant does thinking in a new language also change that aspect of thought?

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Rising Sun

But do you think that change in behaviour happened only because of the language or because as a bilingual you have access to more information, knowledge and can understand people's point of view about your country and culture? Do you think if everybody in your country had access to exact the same information you have, wouldn't they be different?

Both. The different language reflects a different culture as well, because there are completely different ways to use words. It's really obvious when it comes to politeness, swear words, slang and humor.

However, I know several friends who never managed to adapt to that change the way I did. It lead to quite a lot of conflicts because of the culture shock, whereas I experienced just a few misunderstandings at worst. It really depends on the person IMO. Some adapt very well to switching to a different way ot thinking in their new language, some don't.

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Queen Under the Mountain

To be honest what intrigued me most was the idea that thinking individually is drastically different in some respects to thinking communally.

I read somewhere else that in testing, these forms of thinking about the world change the how a question can be interpreted.

The one example I kind of remember: Cow, Cat, Grass and Worm. Which doesn't belong?

In thinking communally, the answer would be Cat because there is an interconnecting relationship between the other three.

In thinking individually the answer would be Grass because it belongs in the flora category.

I just meant does thinking in a new language also change that aspect of thought?

hmm now I got it... I was searching about it and I found this article:

"One way to answer this question is to teach people new ways of talking and see if that changes the way they think. In our lab, we've taught English speakers different ways of talking about time. In one such study, English speakers were taught to use size metaphors (as in Greek) to describe duration (e.g., a movie is larger than a sneeze), or vertical metaphors (as in Mandarin) to describe event order. Once the English speakers had learned to talk about time in these new ways, their cognitive performance began to resemble that of Greek or Mandarin speakers. This suggests that patterns in a language can indeed play a causal role in constructing how we think.6 In practical terms, it means that when you're learning a new language, you're not simply learning a new way of talking, you are also inadvertently learning a new way of thinking. Beyond abstract or complex domains of thought like space and time, languages also meddle in basic aspects of visual perception — our ability to distinguish colors, for example. Different languages divide up the color continuum differently: some make many more distinctions between colors than others, and the boundaries often don't line up across languages."

Full article here: https://edge.org/conversation/how-does-our-language-shape-the-way-we-think

In TED I found this:

"In the same article, Boroditsky notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to say that the vase broke itself. Boroditsky describes a study by her student Caitlin Fausey in which English speakers were much more likely to remember who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks in a video than Spanish or Japanese speakers. (Guilt alert!) Not only that, Boroditsky argues, but there’s a correlation between a focus on agents in English and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than restituting victims."

Full article here: http://ideas.ted.com/5-examples-of-how-the-languages-we-speak-can-affect-the-way-we-think/

Both articles are fascinating and presents strong differences in thought behaviours clearly expressed in our languanges, varying from color diferentiation to gender roles and personal finances patterns. So I think we can consider the possibility of languages turn our thoughts more or less individualists when learning a new language quite strong, even if it only changes when the person is speaking the new language.

I forgot the link for the TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/keith_chen_could_your_language_affect_your_ability_to_save_money?language=en#t-420408

Edited by Queen Under the Mountain
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Yoshpot

I asked a friend this exact question once. I believe her parents spoke Arabic with her but she was educated in English medium schools in Oman. She said she actually thinks in English but can force herself to think in Arabic if she thinks about it enough (I'm now wondering if her parents language was actually Urdu...I can't for the life of me remember exactly!). Personally I learnt Welsh as a Second language and very rarely I will catch myself thinking in Welsh but more as a rehearsal of something important I want to say. I definitely think in English as a rule. I also speak relatively good Spanish (or used to when I lived there) but I never found myself thinking in Spanish, so I wonder if maybe it's got something to do with your comfort in the language? As I'm definitely more confident with Welsh than I ever was with Spanish.

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lapat67

<snip> but I never found myself thinking in Spanish, so I wonder if maybe it's got something to do with your comfort in the language? As I'm definitely more confident with Welsh than I ever was with Spanish.

<snip>

I would assume that unless fluent in another language, you would continue to think in your first. But is that true?

<snip> I went to China where I thought in Chinese, despite not knowing the language very well

<snip>

I've had the same experience as Autumn Season that I found myself thinking in Catalan even when I hardly spoke the language at all. I actually felt stupid because I had so few words to think with. I hazard a guess that once I'd learned to think in a second language (English), something that took a long time to get to, my brain could almost immediately think in a fifth language (Catalan). I don't consider myself bilingual, though. In fact I sometimes feel I'm becoming alingual, partly because living in Britain I use my first language (Dutch) so little that it's actually getting worse, but I think you have to become fluent in a language at a really young age to really reach that native speaker level. The other reason of feeling more and more alingual is an obsession with non-verbal communication, e.g.:

http://thevirtualcommunity.yuku.com/topic/1252/Try-To-Remember-Frank-Herbert#.VfyOq7Mecu0

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Miav-desu

Just a stray thought I had.

As a kid I remember asking myself what languages other people thought in. Logically seeing as I am British and my first language is English, I speak and think in English; so it would make sense for other people (say, a German person) to think in whatever language is their first (i.e. German).

But what of bi- and multilingual people?

I would assume that unless fluent in another language, you would continue to think in your first. But is that true?

I know several different languarge and I also think (somethimes but rarely dream) in a different languarges than the one I normally use.

Generally I dont think in languarges I am not at least somehow fluent in so if I just started to learn lets say spanish (I dont speak any spanish at all) I probably wouldnt really think in that languarge to begin with. But I do think in those languarge I am rather fluent in.

it depends on what languarge I am surounded by, I normally think in my native languarge but exemple if I had used english (exemple while writing this or wathing an english movie) I may afterward think something in english, this also happent if I travel to another country that I start thinking more in that languarge.

-

Somethimes I also think in one languarge above another because the emotions in the languarge fit better with what I feel or cant be translated.

-----

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babybluesnowpants

Being bilingual, I have had tendency to think, dream, and subconciously switch languages, or just translate things.

I also tend to understand things better when I translate them into french.

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Karo

I'm fluent in English and German. When I was younger I used to not think in words, but in pictures/feelings/concepts somehow. Actually, my friend who is also English/German bilingual also thinks like that, even now. I don't know how I did it, or if I could even think about abstract things like that, I can't get myself to think like that now. Even if I don't think in full sentences, some words will come along. Like if think about getting a cup of coffee, I might think the picture, but also 'coffee' or 'Kaffee'. The language is dependent on a) what language I'm currently thinking (which depends on where I am, and any interactions with other people/written language) in and b) the topic. So usually, if I'm in one language mode, my thoughts continue in that language. But there are some topics that cause me to switch language, because I know them better in one language. For example I can express myself far better (including in my thoughts) about a/sexuality and also especially gender in English. Which is sad because it makes it harder for me to talk to my parents :( (then again, maybe it was quite helpful that when I told my dad about being ace I could only words that he would have the same understanding of as me). Also, if I think about situations that I always experience in one language (like school, or talking to family members who only speak one language), I will normally automatically think about it in that one, even though if I consciously decide to, I could switch.

I find it interesting that people say they dream in a language. In most of my dreams I 'just know' all the dreams' information about what's going on and experience feelings and have thoughts, but somehow there are no words involved. That only happens when people speak to each other in the dream, and if its people I know in real life, my dream usually features them speaking their correct language.

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raddestgrl

I speak Spanish to my family since that is the language I have spoken for most of my life. However I think and speak in English to everyone else because I got used to it.

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BR2925 (Sunfish)

I think in my first language, English but sometimes when I'm speaking French, my second language, I can think in it. It really depends on the situation.

...I used to not think in words, but in pictures/feelings/concepts...

But most of the time, like Karo used to, I don't think in words.

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Valja

It it said that one has other personality for every language it speaks. Speaking one language it means that you think in that language, but when you learn more, then you start to understand other things, you become more open minded I guess, for example, my father and my math teacher spoke only one language, their maternal one and didn't understand why the other languages aren't like their own, why they don't pronounce the words as they write them and it was useless to try to make them understand.

Personally, I think in English, but I'm more comfortable speaking in my maternal language, when I am happy I tend to use Japanese and the most funny is to use Spanish. Using other languages is really fun, that's why I enjoy learning new languages.

Edith: Also, when I had to take an English exam it was the moment when my mind switched on Spanish and until I entered the exam class I could only think and speak in Spanish.

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Tarfeather

English is my second language, and I now think primarily in it. The reason is that most of what I "learn" these days I learn from the internet, and the source is in English. So I've taken to thinking in English because it makes it easier for me to process new information and ideas I find on the net.

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_9000

I speak both Korean and English. To me it isn't like 1(Korean) + 1(English) = 2, it's more like 0.5(Korean) + 0.5(English) = 1.

It sounds weird but what I mean is that I feel like I lack some things in both language, somehow, even though I'm fluent in both.

Like sometimes I would remember words in Korean but won't in English and vice-versa.

But then that might be just me being super self-conscious about my grammar skills and etc.

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Kuebiko

I think in all the languages I speak. Which is a lot.

But like, my main two languages are English and Chinese.

So the thing about languages is a word in one language may not convey the exact same concept as a word in another language. To get a full picture in my mind, I combine a couple of languages. Like, 'love' in english entails many different things but you can further differentiate the types of love easily if you use greek or chinese. Essentially, I think more in concepts that words.

And I tend to speak a mashup of languages. Like, pleasantries are in Russian, questions are in Chinese and Hokkien, occasionally German slip into my sentences but most of it is English.

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