Multilingual People Explain Which Language They Actually Think In
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Speaking a second language is one of the most complicated, yet severly undervalued, skills you can learn. We're living in a global economy now and understanding the importance of communication across barriers could earn you a positive reputation someday. However, what is it like for those of us who already speak more than one language to think? What does it feel like inside their minds?


Reddit user, u/RyanXvel, wanted to hear how your brain operates when they asked:

Multilingual people of Reddit, what language do you think in?

Wow...

marge simpson wow GIF Giphy

I don't know, sometimes I just begin a thought in a language ma poi passo ad einer weiteren Sprache i w mojej głowie gh'è unn-a gran confûxón.

zuenotto99

Living In A Different Land Changes You

My Dad is Czech and My Mum is English. They split when I was little so I lived 50/50 with each of them. I only spoke Czech at my Dad's and only spoke English at my Mum's. Since I live in New Zealand, an English-speaking country, I have grown up around everyone else speaking English so I would consider English as my first language. I am 15 and have been to Czech Republic 4 times to visit my Grandparents and other family. I find that when I come back to New Zealand after spending a couple months speaking only Czech, I will sometimes slip up when speaking to English people.

In terms of what language I think in. Mostly English but I actually do occasionally talk to myself in Czech.

kevin_michael_

Dreaming In Another Land

English, my first language, but I've had dreams in Finnish sometimes, especially during times in my life when I'm speaking it a lot (like whenever my grandpa visited or when I traveled to Finland)

PhinnishPharma

My English teacher always said if you start to dream in the second language you are officially bilingual. Not sure if it scientifically checks out

InfrahumanDog

Speaking Changes The Thinking

My mother tongue is [German] and most of the time I also think German. But if i speak English a lot i start thinking in English

amelithium

Use Each Language For What They're Best Known For?

the simpsons art GIF by hoppip Giphy

Depends on the situation.

  1. Thinking about lab-work and friends: English
  2. Counting/numbers: Chinese
  3. Angry rant: Russian

A Mixture Of All The Things

It's a weird combination of my first language and English, sometimes its one or the other but more often its just a combination of different words that form sentences that kinda make sense XD

RoosjeM

This is me with Spanish. Sometimes (even after 30 years of English) it's bad though and I might forget a word in English and say it in Spanish instead without thinking

PullDaLevaKronk

Nobody Make Them Mad

English but Spanglish if I'm pissed

Future_Long1684

Math In Any Other Language Is Still Math

I still do simple calculations in Irish.

I'm not a great Irish speaker and rarely use the language, but I learned counting and sums etc in an Irish speaking primary school.

Danny_Mc_71

As Long As The Cursing Part Is All Sorted Out

Depends on what language I'm immersed in at the moment. If I'm having Spanish conversations my brain just flips over solely to Spanish, and will be like that until I'm back speaking English.

But I tend to curse in Spanish no matter what in my own head.

kylo_drew

Is There Even A Language Thought Barrier?

homer GIF Giphy

It's a weird question to me, since the only time my thoughts are "in a language" is if I'm practicing what to say or remembering something that was said or something like that. So my thoughts aren't in any language, generally. They're just thoughts.

larrieuxa

Depends what language I was reading or listening or speaking in. If I am having a conversation in English, I will think in English. If I am reading in Italian, I will think in Italian. Sometimes I am reading texts messages in Spanish and my husband speaks to me (he only speaks English) I will answer to him in Spanish. It's weird.

Having said that, I don't normally think in words, more like abstract thoughts. I imagine a cloud of feelings and images that paint a picture better than words. Then, when I have to explain that cloud, I can put all of that into words.

sick_sadlittleworld

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