My fingers don't agree with my mind.

Maybe this also happens to some of you, that are studying many different languages, and I think it is very interesting:

Sometimes, when I am typing (translating a sentence), my mind "says" the correct sequence of words but my fingers type one of the words in a different language than the rest.

For example, if I have to translate "le poisson est rouge" into Spanish, sometimes I write "el pez ist rojo" even if in my mind I have CLEARLY "said"/(thought) "el pez es rojo".

There are many other examples where I translate correctly the whole sentence except for one word (usually the verb, but not always) that I write (correctly, but) in a different language, EVEN IF in my mind I said correctly the whole sentence.

This fact proves that although "saying the sequence of words in your mind" and "typing that exact sequence of words" happen simultaneously, they are two completely different processes in your brain and body, with different neural pathways.

It is not just that I may make a typo when typing (I rarely make typos when typing anyway) because in these instances I always type the word correctly, but in a different language, so it is not the typical typo.

One year ago, I spoke only Spanish and English and this never happened to me. I could make some typos but those typos when you press just the following key on the keyboard instead of the correct one and you type "dof" instead of "dog".

So I was always COMPLETELY SURE of what word I had just typed or what sequence of words I had just typed in any sentence.

Now it is different, it feels weird, when I KNOW that I just typed "my friend is old" and it says I got it wrong, and I say "WTF?, it is clearly correct, what are you talking about?" then I look again at what I just wrote and it is: "my friend is alt".

And I think: WTF.....did I really type that? I am COMPLETELY SURE that in my mind, as I was typing, I said "my friend is old", no doubt about that.

So the only logical explanation is that my fingers type a different word, the correct word, but in a different language, and the worst thing is that I am not aware of that until later, when I review what I just wrote or when Duo tells me I was wrong.

It is curious and funny, it teaches us some things about our brain and the way it works. But no longer being completely sure of the exact word (or sequence of words) you just wrote is no fun.

Curiously enough, it ALSO happens to me when I am speaking different languages that I started studying recently (French, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese...), I say a sentence in Catalan and maybe I say one word in French or Italian, but when speaking I instantly catch my error and subsequently correct it, that is, I am consciously aware of the speaking error instantly and I can correct it.

But in these instances of translating sentences on Duolingo, typing, I am not really aware of the error at all. I only get to know them because Duolingo tells me I am wrong, and that is the creepy thing.

November 25, 2016


It would be because you can touch type probably. It happens without much or any thought involved. Interesting that it happens in different languages however! i'll bet certain words come out consistently in a given language even if you think it in a different language. If you had to do the hunt and peck method of typing it probably wouldn't happen because typing is a much more conscious endeavor then! Would be an interesting study for a language professor to see how exactly this works.

November 25, 2016

Yes, I touch type (two hands). Actually if I look at the keyboard then I cannot type (the mechanical typing process of my body just breaks down). When I am typing, I look at the screen or just keep thinking whatever I am thinking while I am typing, but I cannot look at the keyboard).

November 25, 2016

Yes, this happens to me too while touch typing. In order to speak another language well, you should go from abstract idea to words, without going via your native language. It seems as if, in some sense, we are moving to a language of motor movements (typing) directly, without going via the spoken word!

November 26, 2016

That happens to me a lot too. The joys of studying multiple languages!

November 25, 2016

Me aussi! Parfois, I will accidently speak in deux or more languages! C'est annoying!

November 25, 2016

I sometimes do that when I'm tired

A more useful but related thing is the way my finger is better at Russian spelling than I am. If I can start the word my finger knows how to finish it ! Motor memory is great:)

I don't touch type. I just use one finger on a touch screen. I use lots of different keyboard layouts but my finger always knows where the letters are. That is surprising too. It makes for lots of typos though because if I change language but not keyboard I hit the wrong letters.

November 25, 2016

Hhahahahah I was doing the italian course right now and I just had these problems, I was saying "pollo" with spanish accent and I couldn't remember how to say a simple "donna", I was like it's "Frau", oh wait...that's german...come on brain, hilf mir hier!

And I was also typing nouns with capital letters hahahaha.

November 25, 2016

That does not happen to me when I'm typing, but when 'm speaking. My friend always gives me a funny look when randomly throw in a Spanish word - BY ACCIDENT!!!!!

November 25, 2016

In my early days of Russian, some Cyrillic characters popped up in the middle of English words in my statistics notes in lieu of the phonetically corresponding Latin equivalents. When I went back to study for the final: fun surprise!

November 26, 2016

I had a friend who accidentally submitted the first draft of his (undergraduate) chemistry thesis with paragraphs in Greek. He had no awareness of having done this - the language that he had been thinking in was "chemistry", and his read-through had confirmed that everything was scientifically accurate and clear...
His native language was English (although he had lived in Greece for a year before coming to university).

November 26, 2016

Oh my!

Now I have the issue that if I'm doing lessons of unfamiliar languages in the Latin alphabet, I confuse the letters for Cyrillic!

November 26, 2016

Same with me, i used to on duoling and tend to still do, listen to the Swedish dialog and instead of typing the Swedish i write the English translation instead.

On Memrise, i tend to read the English translation of the card and write my answer in Swedish instead of Japanese and visa-versa :)

November 26, 2016

I haven't really faced that so far but when I try speaking French in French class, I end up unintentionally speaking Swedish. I guess I'll face whatever you faced soon once I learn more languages unless I'm careful.

November 26, 2016

You can think faster than you can type, which can cause a lot of issues. If you synchronise typing and thinking you'll make less mistakes, but it's also more boring. There probably are people who can type quite error free without synchronising typing and thinking but I'm also not one of them.

November 26, 2016

Me too. I was doing Dutch and German at the same time for a while and kept thinking ist and typing is and vice versa. Thing is, those types of mistakes wouldn't interfere with communication. They're errors, but people would understand you quite well. I do the same thing with es and est in French and Spanish from time to time, and was having trouble with je (I) in French and je (you) in Dutch. y, i and e in Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese, - spellings of elephant and coffee in different languages. Lots of room for errors, but they sort themselves out.

November 26, 2016
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