Posts filed under ‘Language’

Linguistic contexts

My English vocabulary is melting away. The more Finnish I speak, the more clunky I can hear my English becoming–partially because I have learned to dumb it down in order to have clearer conversations with non-English speakers, and partially because my brain is replacing language associations with different environments with new ones. I was in a meeting yesterday and got all confused as my associations clashed–it was a meeting(like the Finnish business meetings I’ve been having), but it was a student-activist group atmosphere(English academia). So what came out of my mouth was a stuttering mix of half Finnish, half English, as I “vuorotellen” (see?!? I know there’s an English word there) forgot first the right words in one language, then the right words in the next. Also it’s been a slight survival strategy here to switch into English when I talk to people in official settings so they don’t think I’m “simple”, since my Finnish is basically accentless now but my eloquence is distinctly lacking.

I learned three languages simultaneously as a kid. I must have kept them separate by relating them to distinctly separate contexts–now as an adult I’m going to have to be a bit mindful of that, since living with Emma means I’ve been able to get lazy and switch languages whenever the other language seems to have a better word. Tsk tsk.

But what’s more important, being able to communicate in a beautifully specific way with a small group of people, or being able to communicate in a general, understandable way with everyone else? I mean, if you could only choose one?

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November 18, 2006 at 8:45 am 4 comments


Today is a good day to play

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