Language issues

Despite my best (and sometimes not so best) efforts, I remain pretty much a monoglot. My French is not too bad, my Spanish is barely passable, my German is limited to a few words and my Chinese barely that. However, right now my head is a complete mess.

I have just come back from a month in Mexico where I have been working with both locals and German colleagues and trying to resseurect my shaky grasp of two languages while mostly just speaking English. Of course I started in Chinese, but that vanished quickly. Like many people, when stuck with a word I don’t know in another language I tend to default into another foreign one, rather than English. This means I produce lots of sentences that are primarily Spanish or German with a bit of French thrown in when I get stuck.

However, I have left that behing and then after just a few hours in the UK I have come back to Beijing and in addition to the CHinese, I have several French colleagues here who I try to practice with. (Typically I ask them a question in French and then they reply in English – not answer you understand, they ask me what I said). It’s probably not hard to guess that I have spent most of today talking in a mixture of Spanish and German to the bemused Chinese populace of the city and when realising that I am using the wrong language, promptly switching to English or worse, French. I hope it will clear up in a few days if not the local shopkeeps are just going to have to work out that ‘gracias’ means thanks.

1 Response to “Language issues”


  1. 1 Mozglubov 06/10/2008 at 10:54 pm

    I hate that… I invariably mix Russian and German. In addition, both my brothers-in-law are from South America, so I have been trying to pick up Spanish for the past couple years… but it still somehow always defaults to Russian with the odd German word thrown in. Oh well, it is part of the fun of being a primarily monolingual North American…


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