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

Mixing the languages you speak:

This is a post dedicated to all the people who start mixing up their languages. I speak Spanish, English and am learning German. It makes me laugh every time I just cannot get hold of the word I am looking for in the language I want. Perhaps some of you speak a lot more languages and I applaud you for it! The world is ours. We are neither limited nor confined to one place and language. Guten Abend ;)

April 16, 2015

32 Comments


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

Whenever I'm distracted and someone asks me a question, I sometimes reply to them in the wrong language and they would give me a puzzled look.

April 16, 2015

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

I speak English natively, and a lot of the time I find myself making Danish constructions. Such as asking if someone likes something, I'll go "Can you.... Do you like X?" (Danish: Kan du lide X?) or if a word is made up of two words, that are similar but not the same between English and Danish (for example, I'll say "forstand" instead of "understand" (forstå in Danish)). It's not so bad when speaking to Dane or Danish learners, seeing as they'd understand, but when speaking to people who barely even think of Denmark, it definitely attracts funny looks.

April 16, 2015

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

Happens all the time, makes for really funny stories :)

April 16, 2015

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

This doesn't really happen to me. Maybe you can start separating your study by location, time (one language per week/day/etc......or one on weekends, one for weekdays, one in the a.m., the other in the p.m.), aroma, ambient music, background show/movie, what you're wearing, which device (or device type) &/or source (book vs. net) you're using for study, . I would say make a list of all those suggestions from favorite to least favorite & start implementing them, maybe one per month to increase your chance of adherence.

April 16, 2015

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

OP only learns one language right now if I understand the post correctly. But sometimes, learning languages just "invade" the languages that you speak already. It's really not always of unorganized learning etc, there are many possible reasons (e.g. that a language is suited better for expressing a certain thought).

April 17, 2015

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

I thought of that wrinkle but such disambiguation practices can aid in that situation as well. This is all well established in the field of neuroscience, I believe.

Still, your point is an interesting one and thanks for the input. :)

April 17, 2015

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

You are correct, it is well established in the field of neuroscience, particularly the practice of using different locations for different kinds of work, and especially ways of thinking. For example sitting one place when working with creative problems, and another when working with problem solving.

When it comes to language I believe different background music, might be easiest to implement, while different locations might be most efficient.

Important note: while this will definitely aid in keeping the languages separate while studying, the problem might persist in daily life.

April 20, 2015

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

I don't have any problems mixing up my learning languages. Actually, only the languages that I speak on a really high level (my native German and English) are prone to mix up. In my opinion, this is BECAUSE I know them so well. I do exactly know which concept I want to convey and sometimes... there is just no suitable word in one of the languages. There's almost always a word with the same denotation or at least a suitable phrase... But it can be really hard to come up with something that has the same connotation and is tied to the same emotions.

In the languages that I'm currently learning, all of this is no trouble. I am happy when I get the message across, I don't care so much about subtle nuances at this level. In German and English, I do.

Especially in German, I just use the English word if I can't find a satisfying translation. In English, I'm more reluctant to use German words because it's not my native language (in German, people DO know that I can express myself in German even if I use English words) and less English speaker know German than Germans know English.

Regarding my learning languages... I try to keep them as different as possible which works nice so far (I am learning Spanish and dabbling a bit with Russian and Japanese).

April 17, 2015

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

Hello, just a little editing:

This is a post dedicated to all the people who start mixing up their languages. I speak Spanish, English and am learning German. It makes me laugh every time I just cannot get hold of the word I am looking for in the language I want. Perhaps some of you speak a lot more languages and I applaud you for it! The world is ours. We are neither limited nor confined to one place or language. Guten Abend. ;)

April 16, 2015

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

No prob. :)

LOL, why would people downvote someone helping out? I mean, even if you're a native English speaker too, others who aren't can benefit from this. :)

April 17, 2015

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

hahahahha Thanks :P

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chaotic-gay

I keep speaking German in Arabic class. It's a bit of a disaster.

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sweilan1

In college, took a beginning Spanish course while I was taking German. And for some odd reason, whenever I wanted to say "to touch" in German, it always came out as the Spanish "tocar". To this day, I can never remember "berühren" - I always have to check a dictionary.

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rachael.cr3

All the time. I've got great French and okay Russian, but my Frussian is perfect!

April 17, 2015

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

That reminded me of a Dos Equis commercial with "The Most Interesting Man in the World": They said "He can speak Russian.........in French."

April 19, 2015

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

It's amazing how well the brain is able to prevent us from mixing languages accidentally. Bilingual people generally don't mix languages but they might accidentally switch into a different language if they are triggered by something they hear.

I speak English and French and am in the process of learning Spanish and German. The only case of mixing I have experienced is forgetting a word in Spanish, and accidentally thinking of the French or German equivalent instead. It is definitely easier to get mixed up when the languages are closely related such as French and Spanish.

April 17, 2015

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

I totally agree. I want to learn Italian, but it is just too close to Spanish to me. So I will wait for some solidification.
Interestingly, I also can't learn together French and German, because I keep mixing them. Ich bin desolè. So I will also strengthen my German before go back to French.

April 17, 2015

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

Ah, wait till you don't remember your native vocabulary!

I am native German, but became quite fluent in English. Now it happens regulary, that I look at someone and ask "Was ist das deutsche Wort für...?" (What's the german word for...). It is especially bad for phrases.

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dtooke2003

At school (in England) our German and French teacher was the same person (for some ungodly reason in order to learn German at that school we were compelled to learn French too), so a lot of us just ended up with some jumbled mass of both languages. I've been away from learning languages for about 30 years and just decided that I was going to give German a try again. I've found that the odd French word springs into my head. I admire people that have the mental capacity to handle several languages at a time. I'm a software developer that has programmed professionally in about 80 different computer languages, human languages don't come anywhere near as easily to me. So I will probably just aim at sticking with English and German.

April 17, 2015

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

Wow, do you have a blog or something? That is absolutely fascinating. 80! Have some lingots.

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dtooke2003

Wow, thank you...no, no blog. I tend to be something of a (computer) language whore. Just learning languages for the hell of it, or writing language parsers and for a long time was a consultant/contractor so used to get farmed out to program in all sorts of situations. I guess the 80 includes both languages and dialects. As I said, its one thing to be able to do that with computer languages, another for human languages. While I would love to have competency in the list of languages you have, I know practically that my brains not wired for it. Lol.

April 17, 2015

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

I see. That's interesting. I am only truly fluent in 5, though. Well, back to making it 6 soon-ish-ish.

April 19, 2015

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

Nowadays I sometimes have problems even speaking my native language after many days of isolation and learning crazy stuff, when I come out of my cave I might have really long pauses when I think what the word is in my native language and I have it on my mind only in some other languages.

April 18, 2015

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

Had the same problem. I also sometimes use wrong prepositions and translate idioms into my native language, which have lead to some really strange looks.

April 20, 2015

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

fortunately my language doesn't have prepositions !

April 20, 2015

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

It disappears after a while. The more you use the different languages, the more compartmentalized they become in your brain. At least that is my experience.

April 20, 2015

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

I speak English (native), French, and am learning German, Italian, Russian, and Turkish, but in English I often find myself slipping into other languages accidentally. Also if I've been speaking one language the accent carries on into my English, which has made people wonder where I am from.

I also make grammatical mistakes in English by applying grammar of another language to English. Yesterday I accidentally said something in SOV order like in Turkish; that made people look at me weirdly.

April 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/timelord4213

I don't mix up languages when I talk, but it writing I sometimes switch from English to Spanish when I was in Spanish 2, because I used the Spanish the most that year. In German, I don't make many mistakes with the word Es because of how different the German and Spanish languages are in use of words.

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichelleOs899172

:) I've been doing this since I was 14. In middle school the only language my school offered was Spanish, so I took Spanish 1 in a very slow two-year program. When I got to high school, I switched to German. I still remember taking my first German test and for the life of me I couldn't remember the German word for "to dance:" I ended up giving up and writing down "bailar." :) Then I added French my junior year, and that certainly didn't help matters. When I was in grad school my friend and I went to Europe, and I remember we accidentally ended up on a toll road (we'd rented a car). We got up to pay, and I wanted to ask how much, but I just couldn't remember the word for it in French (matter of fact, that's still a memory block for me, for some reason!). Instead, I waffled between Wie viel and quando until I looked over and found the amount on a computer display right next to the car. Duh!

April 17, 2015

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

Sometimes I get locked with the german and english. Today I wanted to say Tuesday and Thursday and I said Dienstag und Donnerstag T_T it was really frustrating.

April 18, 2015

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

This happens to me every time I start a new language, or make bigger strides in one I'm learning. When I was in school (I'm native german) I was into my second year of spanish and 7th year of english and I started reading about japanese for a bit. I found japanese words where I was looking for spanish and spanish words in my english class. It sorted itself out in my mind. But yes, it happens. Never thought of making the languages separate like you suggested, efisgpr, maybe I'm just weird.

What I noticed though is that I can't learn the very basics of two languages at the same time. It doesn't work for me. I need to have a certain grasp on the languages I speak, read, write and think in, before adding more.

For me it comes down to being kind to myself, and regular practice. (my two cents.)

April 18, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/muesli1

Yes, I do know that feeling. Happens a lot at these international events where some Germans are present (who I speak German to when no others are present). It becomes worse when some of the German speakers do not really speak English so that it actually becomes a problem switching languages all the time.

After I have a beer or two it happens that I choose the wrong language and talk until I realize that the person I'm talking to sort of just looks at me obviously not understanding a word.

Also, I notice my native German gets worse when I talk a lot to non-Germans in German as I try to avoid hard words.

April 19, 2015
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