Bilingual People Break Down What Non-Bilingual Folks Will Never Understand

There are numerous advantages to being bilingual.

Knowing the language of the country you may be traveling to, being able to translate for those who need help, not to mention, knowing what some people might be saying as they are literally talking behind your back.

Indeed, many people wish they could be fluent in at least one other language.

Though these same people likely also wonder, how exactly does the brain of a bilingual person work?

How easy is it to jump between multiple languages?

Is it really as easy as it looks to jump between languages?


Redditor -PatkaLopikju- was eager to know the answers to all these questions, leading them to ask:
"Bilingual people, what is a thing that non-bilingual will never understand?"

They All Blend Together

"The fact that I no longer 'translate' in my head when I use my second language."

"The fact that I can be unaware which language I am reading."

"I have a bit of a stutter in one language but not the other."

"Jokes that work in both languages are the funniest."- Mortlach78

"Speaking two languages at the same time."

"Usually because you forget certain words in one language but remember it in the other or because a word is easier to say."

"'Je n’ai aucune idée what the f*ck you’re talking about'.”- ctwheels

There's Not A Word For Everything

"Literal translations rarely work."

"A lot of monolingual people seem to think other languages are like their language but with other words, and every word as an equivalent."- TheAmazingKoki

Knowing The Language Doesn't Mean They'll Understand You

"Having an 'accent' regardless of which language you're speaking."

"Learning a language allows you to feel better understood as we interact and build connections with others."

"So it's frustrating when you feel as though you're not communicating as clearly as you would like to express yourself. It's been great to feel understood!"

"I've enjoyed reading through the comments and learning that there's a lot of people that are actively becoming multicultural."- Silv3r_lite

Less Gets Lost In Translation Than You Think...

"Translating is a whole different skill than speaking another language."

"When I first learnt English, I would translate things in my head to understand them."

"As I became fluent, I stopped doing that because I didn't need to."

"When someone speaks to me in English, I don't translate stuff in my head back to french to understand them, I just automatically understand it."

"Cue to if someone speaks English, and another person doesn't, and ask me 'hey, can you translate what he said ?'"

"I completely suck at it, I can ultimately do it but it means I need to take what was said in English, and reprocess it in French and find the most adequate words for translation and it's honestly not that easy to do."- Matrozi

Words, Words, Words

"How near-impossible it is to translate words when there is only one word for something in one language but multiple variants of it in another."

"For instance, the word 'cousin' in English is just 'cousin', but there are eight different words for cousin in Chinese, all extremely specific."

'Older male on maternal side, older female on maternal side, younger male on maternal side, younger female on maternal side, older male on paternal side, older female on paternal side, younger male on paternal side, and younger female on paternal side."

"There is no general cover-all term for 'cousin'."

"So when an English speaker says, 'I was having dinner with my cousin last week', how do you translate that into Chinese, for a Chinese audience, without knowing which of the 8 cousin categories it falls into?"

"It creates a '404 Error: Cannot Compute' in the interpreter's brain."

"If you are ever giving a speech in English to a Chinese audience and want to see a look of crazed terror on your interpreter's face, just use the word 'cousin' and watch the panic and despair unfold."

"Was an interpreter."- SteadfastEnd

There's No Simple One And Done

"That the way language is constructed is not straightforward."

"It's not just a different set of words and rules of grammar, it's kind of a whole different way of processing thoughts into speech."- Peanut_Butter_32

It Ain't As Easy As It Looks

"Real-time translation takes a LOT of mental energy."- selfawarescreen

What's The Word?

"Brain fog, when asked to translate, at a critical vocabulary moment."

"You need that one word to make the perfect translation."

"But it is not there."- toyoung

Forgetting Your Native Tongue

"Forgetting words from your native language if you are using the second language too much."

"I have lost count of how many times I knew what I wanted to say in any other language, yet I forgot how to say it on my own native language."

"I end up remembering them later on anyways, but it is such an embarrassing feeling."

" Also, another little thing."

"Accidentally switching languages in the middle of a conversation."

"I may be talking to someone in English, and when I didn't understand something, I would be like 'Qué?'(What? In Spanish), all without even thinking about what I did until I realize that I spoke in Spanish by mistake."

"It's not really common for it to happen, but I do remember each and every single time it does."- AruPeachy

"When some word only comes to mind in another language, and you just can't remember what that word is in your native tongue."- Acceptable-Damage43

Not All Sayings Are Universal

"The struggle of explaining / understanding sayings."

"Americans use a lot of sayings like “'et’s play it by ear', and in Spanish we also have sayings that don’t quite translate."

"Also when I’m too excited/ angry etc my brain switches to my native language and can’t quite express myself correctly the other language."- immigrantme

Humor Isn't Universal

"Some jokes make no sense in other languages."- Dukanduu

The Emotion Behind What You're Saying

"You have different personalities based on the language you’re currently speaking, and your native language has emotional ties that aren’t always present in other spoken languages."- P-Wizzl

One needs a fairly active brain to be successfully bilingual.

Though, one can only imagine that internally worrying about your everyday problems in French would likely make them seem a little more romantic.

"Qui sait?"

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