Thursday, August 30, 2007

Which Language Do You Use to Think?

Now the above question may be relevant only to non-native English speakers who live abroad or to native English speakers who've lived in a non-English speaking place.

I've just come to realize that ever since I moved here, my brain had switched to English to think. Back in Indo, I mostly process my thoughts in Indonesian, though once in a while I forced my brain to think in English for practice sake. I only realized this a few days ago when I caught myself thinking in Indonesian. I felt that something was off, and then I shrieked inside and said, "Of course!!! I'd been thinking in English lately. No wonder it felt weird thinking in Indonesian again!"

So, how about you? I'm mostly curious about Max's answer, as she's lived in different countries (Portugal, Canada, London) and she can speak LOTS of different languages.


  1. hmm, it is interesting. When I am normally counting numbers and conversing, I still in a way think through Chinese.

    But most of the times, I process information as English basis. Maybe that's why my thought process is so weird hahaha!

  2. Shan: Ah, so you still use Chinese in some ways, eh?

    LOL!!! I think everybody has his/her weird side (at least when people who're SO different from them look at those sides) he he he...

  3. Hello Amelia!!!

    lol this is a good question! Which is my Thinking language? Well, it depends: when I am writing/speaking to English-speaking people, I think in English; when I'm writing/speaking to French-speaking peeps I think in French and so forth...

    You see, Amelia, I try not to think in Portuguese otherwise I'll have the tendency to form sentences the way they are constructed in Portuguese; which is a no no, since every language has its sentence construction, right?

    But the funny thing is: when I'm speaking Portuguese I tend to think in English...and I often mix English words in my spoken Portuguese (a few years ago my friends mocked me, but now it's trendy to introduce foreign words when speaking, so now they think it's chic *nodding*)!

    I hope to have satisfied your curiosity :)!


  4. Max: INTERESTING. THANKS for sharing. You're RIGHT about not trying to think in other languages when you're writing/speaking in a certain language. ;-D

    Curiosity satisfied, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Girl! ;-D

  5. Well Amel, I was never fluent in Arabic or Hindi when I lived in Oman although I tried very hard to learn both languages as my Anglo-Indian friend had a degree in Arabic and could also speak seven of the languages through India and Pakistan such as Urdu, Gujarat, Hindi etc.

    So I'm afraid the boring answer from me is that I thought/wrote/spoke in English and swore in Arabic.

  6. Hi Amel, I lived in France briefly and found myself thinking in French. Weird how that happens. F

  7. Agnes: THANKS for your UN-boring answer. You always make me smile. ;-D

    Fish: INTERESTING. So I guess our brains really do know how to cope "automatically", eh? ;-D

    THANKS for participating, everybody!!!