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Leader of the Balkan Squad
Joined: 14.10.2016
Pending moderation

Hello, everyone!

I've been doing some research recently on multilingualism and polyglots in general, and, being one myself, have come across a phenomenon that I refer to as "Polyglot Problems". Such examples include:

Hearing words in a language you don't speak and interpreting them to be words in your language
Listening to music in a language you don't speak and yet you're able to sing along
And others.

My question is, do any of you have #PolyglotProblems of your own?

Editor from the Land of Fire
Joined: 21.06.2013

Hey!
I actually have. But I'm okay with it. Cause I have fun . (singing part is great)

Editor and cheeky nitpicker
Joined: 14.09.2013

English is the only language I know well enough to actually dream in it or be tempted to use specific idioms when talking in French, but I don't know if that qualifies as "polyglot problems".
Had some troubles with German too, after 6 months in Germany when I was a student. I spoke little or no English at the time and there was not a single French speaker around, so I had little choice but to try and wrap my head around the language.
I must have been slightly traumatized by the experience. When I came back to France, I tended to build my sentences like in German, break down my speech into very small chunks and occasionally find myself at a loss for words :).

Senior Member
Joined: 26.05.2017

I'm not really a polyglot (depends on your definition) but I can speak besides French, English pretty good and have a good level in Spanish, Italian and Dutch. The problem I've just got today was making mistakes in my own mother tongue because I translated from French to English and was thinking in English x) Plus, I watched videos in English with Spanish subs, without thinking in French.
Another nice thing that isn't really a 'problem', is the fact I can imitate pretty well accents of languages I don't know (Russian for example); then I can speak in French with these accents Teeth smile

Editor (Resident Evil)
Joined: 26.10.2015
crimsonDyname wrote:

Hearing words in a language you don't speak and interpreting them to be words in your language

Ever heard of "buffalaxing"? Try YouTube. Like when German "fremd und geheimnisvoll" ("strange and mysterious") is misheard as "enter the hymen store" (Dschingis Khan - Moskau). Or the other way around, English "as your bony fingers" sounds to a German like "Isch bau die Dinger" (dialect for "I'm rolling blunts") => Depeche Mode - Dream on.

crimsonDyname wrote:

Listening to music in a language you don't speak and yet you're able to sing along

I know a lot of Japanese songs by heart without actually understanding the language (I read the translations, but I usually can't remember details).

Konall wrote:

Another nice thing that isn't really a 'problem', is the fact I can imitate pretty well accents of languages I don't know (Russian for example); then I can speak in French with these accents Teeth smile

I tend to instinctively mimic the accents of native English speakers I'm with for a longer period (American, Irish etc.).
In German, I only do this for fun (and I'm told by native speakers of the respective accent that I'm not very good :D).

One of my own typical "polyglot problems" is false friends. Being bilingual, I switch often between German and English (sometimes mid-sentence) and sometimes one language gets in the way of the other and makes me fall for them although I should know better. Typical examples: using "actual" for "aktuell" ("current") or "decent" for "dezent" ("low-key").

Editor || ᴋɪssᴇᴅ ʙʏ ғɪʀᴇ . ♔
Joined: 08.09.2014

#Polyglot problems: Not being able to find enough opportunities to practise the languages you speak so you are ridden by a fear that your ability to speak is gradually fading and all your effort will be lost.

Princess
Joined: 12.07.2016

Sometimes while I'm speaking, a word from another language comes to my mind that I have to tell but I can't find it's equilibrium in the language that I speak that moment.

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

My biggest problem is switching between languages subconsciously - probably because I'm at least bilingual on a daily basis and since my mind tends to wander around, sometimes I start saying something in one language and finish it in another. Another one is trying hard to "switch" to another language, but you can't remember the words/expressions, although you can think of them in at least 3 other languages.

I always try to find similarities between an unknown language and something I know already too.

Senior Member
Joined: 12.07.2016

Another problem that many people might face is thinking in a language any speaking in other. This often happens with me, I can listen/see English, start thinking to respond in Russian and speak Hindi instead. Or listen in Japanese and interpret Hindi simultaneously. I won't consider it as a problem always.

Slavic chrzan
Joined: 16.06.2013

I go to German refreshment classes right now and my current biggest problem is that when I try to speak in German I think in Greek. And my native language is Bulgarian.

Brain, WTF???

Editor from the Land of Fire
Joined: 21.06.2013
niko.kossev wrote:

I go to German refreshment classes right now and my current biggest problem is that when I try to speak in German I think in Greek. And my native language is Bulgarian.

Brain, WTF???

You made my day :d great brain! :d

Super Member
Joined: 10.05.2012

My problem is switching suddenly from language to language. When I was living in London, someone called my flatmate and they didn't speak English. He tried to tell them that they had called the wrong number, but they didn't know what he was saying, so he called me and said: "tell them this is the wrong number in French". I started looking for the way to say it in my mind, but not even a second went by and he said: "and Spanish and Italian, whatever, tell them something". In that moment I totally blacked out and I just stood there, silent and totally confused. Then he hung up and told me: "it's ok if you don't know it"... YOU CAN'T ASK ME TO THINK IN THREE LANGUAGES AT THE SAME TIME IN SUCH AN ABRUPT WAY.
Another example is when I was coming back from London. I was at the train station and a Polish guy approached me speaking in English: as he didn't know Italian, he wanted to know when his train would have arrived. So I helped him and then two African guys approached, asking me some information in Italian. Thing is, I obviously understood what they told me, but, as I was speaking in English with the other guy just a minute before, I unconsciously replied in English and they said: "oh, he's a stranger, nevermind"... I went back to them and told them what they needed to know in Italian, but I felt highly ashamed.
Thing is, when you go to a country, your brain gets used to speak and think in that language. After London, I went for two weeks back home in Italy, then I moved to France, where I still am, but my brain was still thinking in English. Sometimes it happened that someone would ask me something in French, I would reply in French and finish the sentence with "I think" in English. Luckily now my brain seems to be starting to get used to French, as I had some dreams in French.

Sometimes it also happens that I understand what someone's telling me, but I forget in which language they spoke to me. That happens mainly on the internet, as in real life I'm not really exposed to many languages, but, as I said talking about the two African guys, that is a problem when you need to reply.