Thursday, September 08, 2011

Brain Pain

Every time I have learned a new language, it has affected the ones I already knew. French altered my German, but then my college German reasserted dominance over my French.

Then there was Hebrew, which made it so that I couldn't construct a thought in German without Hebrew interference. My Hebrew was diminished by time and then a bit of Arabic and Russian. And finally, it is Estonian at the forefront of my linguistic brain.

That has never really been a problem. The last language I studied was the language I needed to use.

Except here.

Here of course, there are Estonian and Russian speakers. I know very little Russian, but I do try to at least exchange pleasantries with those who speak only that language.

Add into this mix my orthodox Jewish neighbors, who speak as far as I can tell only Hebrew (except the husband, who has some English).

So yesterday, I spoke Hebrew to my neighbors, Russian to the cleaning lady, and then Estonian to another neighbor in the space of like five minutes.

And my brain cramped.

Suddenly I was questioning whether I was using Hebrew in my Estonian (ma is I in Estonian and what in Hebrew, and as I used it in Estonian, properly, I second guessed whether that actually did mean I!). Who knows what I did with the Hebrew and Russian. Okay, I do know there was some Estonian in the Hebrew (the wife asked if I was American and I said yes in Estonian).

So this is a new linguistic challenge for me. Try to work with two languages I have an okay command of and one I know pleasantries in without having them interfere with one another.

It is either really going to make my brain work better or shut it down completely.


Whitney said...

I completely know how you feel. I have German and French. My husband and I were watching Inglorious Bastards while I was cleaning the house and at one point the dialogue was switching between French and German. After about 20 minutes, I asked him to turn it off. My head had NEVER pounded so hard.

BTW! Thanks for your UAB post. It really helped us out. However, your UAB was picked up the day after ours so we definitely made some errors (should have packed the TOWELS!). Also I am jealous you received yours already, we still have at least a week.

Thanks again,

Digger said...

That sucks that you have to wait so long for your UAB! I am supposed to get my HHE around teh 23rd. I am so ready for the doggie nail clippers...the floors are hardwood and when my dog walks on them, it sounds like I have a tap dancer in the house!

Whitney said...

we have tile, the dogs were sliding everywhere!! we borrowed clippers

Digger said...

Good idea...I'm considering buying a new pair!