A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I am hopelessly in love with language. I love the way it moves, the way it sounds, the way it feels, the way it thinks. Hell, just being in the company of language turns me on! If language were a woman, I’d never get out of bed. Luckily, even though I’ve dabbled in French, Spanish and now Dutch, English will always be my monogamous choice. You see, I have this feeling that being completely bilingual (or multilingual, or whatever) is like having two girlfriends, mistresses or wives. It’s probably totally cool in theory, but the reality has got to be super- difficult and uber-confusing. So, if you speak more than one language, I have a few questions.
1 — My electronics are all set for English. However, if you’re emailing and texting people in more than one language, do you have to constantly change settings, or do you just pray autocorrect won’t suddenly have a total logic meltdown and fry your phone like in a bad Sci-Fi movie?
2 — What happens when you’re speaking one language and there’s a more descriptive word for what you’re saying in a different language? Do you tell your brain to quit being such a smart ass and carry on, or do you use the foreign word and hope people don’t think you’re a pompous jerk?
3 — In general, jokes don’t translate, so are people who speak more than on language so confused they don’t really laugh at anything? Or do they wander around all day, giggling like idiots, because everything is so damn funny?
5 — Idioms and slang usually don’t translate either, so when you get really angry or excited, do you swear at people in the wrong language?
6 — How do you play Words With Friends? Do you settle on one language or just use them all?
7 — How do you know which language you think in — like, for really?
But the thing I really want to know is this:
8 — After awhile, do you start speaking French with an American accent, German with an Italian accent, English with a Spanish accent and on and on — until even you don’t remember which is which, and you sound like your original language was Klingon?