https://www.duolingo.com/bufferz91

HELP?! any bilingual or polyglots experience anything like this?

I have been learning Polish now for 6 months quite intensively. Sometimes i find myself just thinking and building sentences in my head and every now and then when i try to revert back to my native language (english) i can't remember certain words i am looking for :/. I know this to be normal sometimes when learning a language and this is not the problem. The problem is I find myself using wrong words in my native tongue. Im still coming to terms with the fact a word can have many meaning. Here is an example: the polish word for tell, speak, say, etc can be pretty much the same for all of them. Thus i find myself making silly mistakes when switching out of polish and back to english saying things such as 'Why won't you just say to me' - Instead of 'tell me' Another example is, i have been speaking in polish then gone to say "the mattress is bare and the material is scratching my legs" in english. After searching for the word 'bare' in my brain i thought my legs are sore because the skin has come away and been left raw, thus in my head connecting the under layer of something with the word raw. My final sentence was 'The mattress is raw and the material is scratching my legs'

Will this go away? also i feel like since I've started searching for words in a second language i have learnt to think of a word then think of its multiple meanings and uses before selecting it, do you think this in combination with forgetting words in my native tongue could explain this strange phenomenom?

2 years ago

20 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/NM168
NM168
  • 19
  • 16
  • 15
  • 11
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

This same thing happens to me quite often, mostly with dutch. I've found myself on many occasions to switch out English words with their Dutch equivalents. Interesting to find that I'm not the only one with this problem.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bufferz91

how many languages do you speak?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gabzerbinatoEng
gabzerbinatoEng
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

It didn't happen before, when I only spoke Portuguese, my native language, and English. But since I started with Swedish, I have been mixing up everything. Some funny things happen, such as "I think inte att this is good", or "Eu äter inte isso". I believe this is completely normal, and usually goes away when I've had enough sleep and have eaten enough too.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bufferz91

actually these have happened often when waking up or falling asleep

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gabzerbinatoEng
gabzerbinatoEng
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

Yes, I believe because those are moments when our minds are more relaxed, and more prone to make mistakes about everything.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GrandaUrso

I have had difficulty with this too. I've really dove into Esperanto and I look up videos on it and study it fairly consistently throughout the day. I will have conversations with people and will occasionally substitute an Esperanto word or a phrase in where an English one should be. Take heart, this is normal and you're not the only one to experience it!

Learning a different language changes your brain, it changes what it holds as normal and so much of our communication is knee jerk reaction is it any wonder that we struggle to recollect when there's more than one knee jerk reaction for our brain to consider? Keep up the good work!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
Ilmarien
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12

Actually... yes. I did once recently say "still" when I meant to say "yet" because the concepts don't map perfectly between English and Spanish. I also sometimes just blank on English vocabulary and can't think of anything but the Spanish word.

Beyond that, if I've been speaking Spanish for an extended period of time, if I try to switch to English, sometimes my brain just freezes and I have to stick to Spanish. I assume it's just because my Spanish is not good enough yet that my brain can switch between the two seamlessly.

I'd say these are all good signs that your brain is really adapting to the new language. At least I hope so!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bufferz91

the still yet example is exactly the type of mistake i meant lol!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jocelyn-H
Jocelyn-H
  • 21
  • 8
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

This happens to me a lot, but I can usually find the word eventually. What's more embarrassing is when I'm at school and I mean to say something, but I start saying it in the wrong language.

Don't know how to help :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheHockeyist

I think that's fairly normal, and I can kind of relate (but not with my native language). I've had problems confusing the grammar of Spanish and Russian when I had to learn them at the same time. I would say things like "Собака es маленький [sic, I did not know Russian grammatical gender].", for instance, or "Я не hablo по-русски." I would recommend to try separating English and Polish in your head a bit more, and perhaps try to have different mindsets for each.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/matfran2001
matfran2001
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 22
  • 21
  • 20
  • 18
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2
  • 15

It happens to me a lot. I think it is normal when you are studying several new languages from scratch at the same time.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/solidgitarius
solidgitarius
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 15
  • 14
  • 12
  • 12

The weird thing for me is that after listening to some podcasts in Portuguese I now speak Spanish (my native language) with some kind of Portuguese rhythm. Specially after I heard a Portuguese comedian, I can't get rid of that way of talking.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/srosa__

Can't say I've had issues forgetting the English language, though because of having taken Latin for university, I found I have had a hard time trying to learn Spanish and Italian, as my sentences would come out mostly in Latin, or my brain would chose Latin words over the proper Spanish and Italian options. Despite being fluent in french, I have never had issues with French words being subbed in anywhere, or subbing other words into the English language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PolyglotCiro
PolyglotCiro
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 3

Spanish is my mother tongue and speaking so many languages does not really affect to my Spanish (just some things about the accent, and the word American)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 18
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 1484

As a native English speaker I've started to have to remind myself that "American" means "estadounidense" after studying Spanish.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PolyglotCiro
PolyglotCiro
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 10
  • 3

yeah, then I sometimes say 'Américano' instead of 'Estadounidense'.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 18
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 1484

I also struggle to remind myself that despite being "Northamericans" Mexicans are not "norteamericanos."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wildfood
wildfood
  • 25
  • 25
  • 14

Sometimes I will hear a Spanish or French word and not be able to immediately recall the English equivalent even though my native language is English. I did this with écuyer and escudero but could not remember that the English translation was squire :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 18
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 1484

Earlier today I was learning the Greek alphabet, so I was trying to read out loud. I started talking to myself and I didn't notice that I was speaking in Spanish and not English. I think some confusion is natural and becomes rarer with more practice.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Robinine
Robinine
  • 16
  • 12
  • 6
  • 4
  • 4

I keep finding myself thinking at the halfway point between English and German, i.e English with German grammar or German with English grammar. I've had to apologise to my friends occasionally, though it's been useful in work as I can now understand some of the stranger English sentences my German colleagues send me.

I do know that there's a phrase, I think it's "code switching" that describes this, apparently it's common in people who speak multiple languages, where you can't find the word you want in the language you're using, so you grab from a different language or replace it with a out of context translation of the word you want. I picked up the concept from an author I read, so I don't know how true it is, but they are pretty reliable about their research.

Your problem seems to be the word you want is easier to grab from the language you're learning, probably because you've been focusing a lot on it lately, if you spend time working with your native language, such as reading, listening, talking, it will be easier to pull words from your native language. I've noticed that the effect is more evident when I've been focusing on German for a few hours.

2 years ago
Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.