Dutch Courage, German Measles and American Patriot
Sometimes that’s how I feel when I tell others I speak languages other than English.
It’s not that rare in Britain to be able to speak a second language. 38% speak at least one foreign language, according to the British Council (Link), possibly bolstered by young immigrants who learn to speak their parent’s language.
In my university friend’s case, that would Mandarin, Polish or Arabic. Technically, in my case, that should be Welsh (assuming the Welsh are foreign).
So of course if you break it down to British people tracing themselves back more than three generations, the number falls to 18%, and 6% for those with two foreign languages or more.
I fall in the 6% category, speaking French and Italian and currently learning Portuguese. It’s embarrassing admitting it, because it’s still quite unusual. I frequently receive disapproving looks, as if I have claimed that I have slept with Angelina Jolie (I wish!) and sent a film of it to the Pope (my pleasure).
But just assume I’m telling the truth, and listen to something interesting; those 62% or so who don’t speak a second language in this country are seriously missing out on a curious phenomena. it’s called “the other personality”.
When I’m speaking English, I’m shyer, moodier, more defensive. But when I speak French I am much more confident, bordering on the slightly crackers, and less cynical, more optimistic.
And when I speak Italian…for some reason I become very chatty and quite child-like. Maybe it’s because when I speak a foreign language I know my mother can’t understand me…
I also speak much louder as well in a foreign language, especially when I speak Portuguese.
Now that’s embarrassing.
It made me wonder if other friends speaking in their other languages behave differently. So I spoke to a French friend in french,who I usually speak to in English. Usually he’s a grumpy tit, and I often have to pull him up, although his moaning is quite funny.
I discovered that when he speaks his own language, he’s more relaxed and gentlemanly, although doesn’t stop himself from laughing at my French (damn Versaillien!).
Further investigation; an Italian friend is gawky and nervous in English, but charming and bubbly in Italian. What on earth makes people speaking English so dour?
Salmons, when they said that speaking a foreign language broadens the mind and lets you see different perspectives, I would say that is true. Certainly, speaking another language changes your personality in such a way that you can’t help but think differently.
Keep swimming, Salmons!
P.S: In regards to this topic and the recent terrorist attack, I wonder sometimes if multiculturalism has failed, and we really need to integrate more. Not to the detriment of our cultures, but for us to see the value of other cultures, and appreciate them for as they are.
We should also remember the right of freedom of expression, and of speech, and not be afraid to speak up using that right when you see it being violated or abused.
It is no different from the Crusades, done in the name of God.