https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sens44

Does anyone else find that the language(s) they're learning affect their native language?

I have reached a certain solid level of proficiency in French, and for the first time I've been using French more or less regularly in practical and everyday situations. This weekend I've used French almost as much as English. I've been texting in French and talking to a guy at work some in French as well, and reading a lot of French online. For three days in a row I've been thinking in French, and now when I'm trying to write in English I keep messing up, and having a little bit of difficulty trying to think of what I'm trying to say in English, because I'm thinking how to say it in French. It's like English words come out of my mouth but in the form of a French sentence. It's so bizarre lol. Does this happen to anyone else? For people who are fluently bilingual, is this normal?? XD

July 30, 2018

38 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaye16

When I was doing the German tree daily I found myself capitalizing all the nouns I wrote ...even in English.

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheDaisyMoon

At school I oftenly had an hour of English after an hour of German and I always had trouble with capitalizing. That's something I like about German, how the nouns are capitalized, I don't know why but it pleases me aesthetically speaking.

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaye16

Yes, I like the capitalizion of nouns in German. Only in English, it was rather disconcerting. ;-)

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CameronLishus

OMG this is killing me at the moment. To agree with OP, I am having some moments where I am negating words quite interestingly in English if I've studied hard recently.

July 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GuilloFuchs

Yes it is. In my case, when I speak Spanish (my native language) I always mix in Portuguese words, or conjugate verbs in "Portuguese style", or use Portuguese prepositions. I've noticed this ONLY happens with Portuguese, quite likely because both languages are linguistically close.

But it's a pretty normal thing with people who can speak two or more languages.

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gamekkeut

Yes, it's normal. My speech in English can be a bit wild at times, and I have to slow down and process the syntax that I want to use, otherwise it'll sound like English spoken in Spanish grammar.

July 30, 2018

[deactivated user]

    Well, I often start a sentence in my head in Russian but end it up in English and vice versa. Though these are too different languages to mix them in a speech, I pretty much always want to do this, especially when it becomes hard to find words. But it's a normal thing, just relax and enjoy your bilinguality.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheDaisyMoon

    I am French but mostly have been reading books and watching tv shows or movies in English for 15 years. I do a lot of weird english phrasing in french or even sometimes when talking the english word for a concept comes first and then I just can't remember the french word. It's pretty ridiculous but I guess it's how it is.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KawaiiKiwi21

    Yeah, that happens to me, especially as it's the summer holidays. We have no school, so we have no lessons - no English lessons (yes, English people do English lessons too, but they're very different to other languages' English lessons). If I'm doing no English lessons, just French, then I'm practicing French more than English. So instead of thinking, 'Look at that man,' I think, 'Look at that homme.'

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KawaiiKiwi21

    A little bit. I've only been doing proper French for 4-5 years now, apart from the little bits I'd done at school before. I've been having conversations in English, mixing in the tiniest bit of French. For example, 'Have you seen the chat sat in our garden?' You'll probably get out of the habit once you're more fluent and don't have to think as much about what words mean. Once you're able to stop thinking about what words in French mean and you can just say it when you want to without stopping and trying to remember, you'll stop doing it. Instead of thinking as you say it, 'Is that chien or chat?' You'll think, 'That's chat.' (I know it's easy French and you know the difference anyway, it was just an example.)

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Einat162

    A week ago a coworker set down with me and I was suppose to search for something with the word "pencil" on the computer - I typed the Welsh version of it in instead ("pensil"), I manage to recover pretty fast, and knowing her I'm sure she won't remember this- but I laugh at myself.

    Doing the same with the word shop (siop) while browsing.

    I'm not native to either English nor Welsh ...

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CameronLishus

    the similar words are the biggest culprits Ive found. Hard to accidentally use Fahrrad instead of bicycle, but you bet I have accidentally typed things like Katze and kalt instead of Cat and cold.

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ycUvuSap

    My Finnish and English remain quite distinct from all the other languages, though I something use old fashioned North Germanic loan words like "räknätä" for fun. It is quite intentional, though.

    My North Germanic languages are not yet at a stable level, where I can read, write and discuss arbitrary subjects by using them, so it is hard to say.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ginasem

    Yes, i am confusing my spelling

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HuDragonCriminal

    I can relate. Learning French as an English speaker, I have started to use a lot of "big words" frequently in English. Words like ameliorate, augment or comprehend instead of improve, increase and understand.

    Since English has taken a lot of words that are used in normal daily conversation in French, I guess another side effect of using French often (other than the grammatical structure you mention) is a larger and more sophisticated English vocabulary.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LorettaPresley

    But that is awesome. Me, I just started pronouncing French loan words the French way because the other way just sounds bad to me. I was actually worried that my English would become worse because so many people have said their English went downhill, but I feel like for me, I'm actually starting to understand English better. I'm so much more aware of awkward sounding sentences and the like in English when I didn't notice before.

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lezuardi

    Indonesian grammar doesn't allow question words to be placed in non-question sentences. However, English "allows" it (with a different function), and since a lot of Indonesians learn English, there are grammatically incorrect sentences with legit English grammar:

    It's a place where people can have fun. (EN) Itu adalah sebuah tempat dimana orang-orang dapat bersenang-senang. (ID - wrong) Itu adalah sebuah tempat orang-orang dapat bersenang-senang. (ID - correct)

    Apart from that, sometimes I DO mess up sentence structures from random languages, so I have to rethink about the sentence several times XD

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesTPhillips

    Yes I've found myself saying or writing French words when I mean English. And another side effect - my phone's autocorrect is starting to want to correct things into French words, presumably because of all the times I've typed them into DuoLingo.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatCantDuo

    Yes. Everything I say in English, I have to ask if it’s correct.

    By the way, is what I said correct?

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kangarooqueen

    Yes learning Russian messed up my brain seriously.

    I was standing in line to pass customs coming back to the states after spending a month in Russia and speaking only Russian, and the guy in front of me says, "I think the other line would have been faster!" and I respond with, "I also so think!" and shortly thereafter realized how silly I sounded, but it sounds 100% normal in Russian!

    You get sorta...stuck in one 'mode' or another. After spending a lot of time in Russia I usually wake up speaking Russian for at least a few days.

    I'll say it's one of the more confusing (and amusing!) aspects of language learning, having made it to B2 or C1

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth510766

    yeah, this stuff happens. sometimes find myself writing Russian words with English letters, ha-ha

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hermesianax

    It's normal. It can be quite annoying too, seeing how much English I and the people around me throw into their Dutch.

    A tip: really work on your French accent. It will help make a clearer switch between English and French, and thus keep the two systems more separated.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Said985765

    Yes it is. I speak German every day and when I talk (this usually happens when I speak to my brother, idk why) I sometimes say a word or two in English without realizing it.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LordBerkut

    When I first started learning Spanish, I kept on accidentally trying to pronounce English words as if they were Spanish words. (Mostly ones with 'Q' or 'll') But now that rarely happens.

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BryanGlers

    I have the same problem too, when i was in Australia and i started to learn swedish, i started to confuse some words in my english conversations so i think is pretty normal XD

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheLord2k1

    yes its normal, but it'll never gonna make u forget ur native language
    i talk Polish normally in my day and with family , even my family learned some polish phrases from me as i use them a lot xD
    but my Arabic is Perfect cuz i'll never forget my native language

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jose332507

    Welcome to bilingualism! :) Yes, this is normal and it will shift depending on how much you use which language the most, etc. I am fully bilingual (Spanish and English) and I have this problem all the time. Sometimes a word will pop up in my head in Spanish and unless I try to think "concept" not "translate", I can't come up with the word.

    I have been speaking English on a daily basis for several years. I find that although I don't forget my Spanish, I do have a hard time remembering how to write certain words and I will sometimes feel awkward in terms of how my sentences come out...

    July 30, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Audrey_Barry

    It is normal cuz I've been speaking Japanese around my house and to friends and sometimes I forget some phrases in English (my native language). So I think it's completely normal.

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elizabeth221

    I had a dream and I was speaking Spanish in it. (I'm English) That was strange!

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hjh414399

    Yes, 1) my spelling in English, my native language, is suffering 2) in Duolingo I sometimes give half the words in Spanish and half in Engllsh which to me makes perfect sense until I see "Incorrect"! This effect will vanish in time but for the moment it is rather amusing!

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ginasem

    I said the same thing earlier...lol

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LorettaPresley

    I am bilingual, German and English. When speaking, I don't mix up the grammar and such. There are occasions where I have a "brain fart" and remember only the word for it that I don't need at the moment. But that's no different than a monoligual person just being unable to think of a word sometimes. My English spelling is not affected by German, but the other way around it definitely is. However, I don't write much in German. If I did, I'm sure it would get better. I do creative writing in English, so I'm probably practicing too much for my spelling to suffer too much.

    Strangely, since I started learning French seriously, I've become much more aware of the awkward sentences English speakers often use as well as the grammar mistakes they often make...myself included. French hasn't hurt my English or my German, other than I now pronounce loan words the French way because the other way started sounding wrong.

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judy_Blue_Eyes

    I feel that my grammar is improving.

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert434576

    Yea, back some years when I first started to learn German I had a point that I remember I was working on colors. That is when I first noticed it, then later on it was happening more often. I would speak the English words but in my head I was automatically thinking the German word and translating it into the English. Often I had the German spelling for the words on paper. I had to really become more aware of my thoughts, my words, and my writing.

    At that time, my teacher said that is proof that you would not be a great candidate for learning many languages at one time. I took those words to heart for the most part. But eventually, it all stabilizes. I do not do that no more ....

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keanu933461

    I've been learning two languages since I could remember: Navajo and English. I tend to mix the two languages up and sometimes I find myself saying Navajo words to English speakers and vice versa. However, since I started learning Spanish, I tend to pronounce English words with a Spanish pronunciation. I find it quite amusing sometimes.

    July 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LetsGoEngland

    I use Spanish once every week, and I think it only effects my spelling. Maybe once in a blue moon I'll say a word in Spanish, but that's really it.

    August 1, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Squash72

    Idk if this is from me learning Swedish or if I'm just dumb (probably the latter) but I keep on forgetting words not like big words or ones I don't use all the time but I think I forgot Microwave once and Dvd

    August 1, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cathy180021

    Yes. I am English learning Spanish. A long time ago I learned a fair bit of French. I now catch myself dreaming in all 3. I thought that was weird.

    And then it started happening to me when I was awake too.

    Last week a colleague called out como estas (sorry no accents available) in a crowded work area.

    Oddly, I drew a blank on the Spanish response. Instead I reflex responded in French, and asked him in French, because, I suppose I remembered he speaks French because he immigrated from a French colony in Africa, how he was -comment cava. Sorry again for no accents.

    He laughed and responded in Spanish. Then elaborated in French. We tossed a few Spanish pleasantries back and forth and I remembered to ask about how his sister,who had recently changed jobs, liked the change.

    But because she and I used to chat at meals in French, both trying to rebuild/ maintain our French, it again came out in French.

    So there we were, jumping in and out of those other 2 languages as we conversed, no doubt confusing everyone else around us.

    The crazy thing was that it somehow did not occur to me even when struggling for a phrase to ask how to say it using English, or drop into english. It was like my brain was stuck in not-english mode.

    In the end he said bye and closed with an East African dialect blessing, which she always used, and I automatically gave the response.

    2 of our English speaking supervisors were there, just shaking their heads. It was really just basic chitchat but a lot of fun.

    September 11, 2019
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