Dopers who speak more than one language...

…what language to you think to yourself in? Apparently, the deal is people think to themselves in the language they’re used to. Ma says when she first got to the States, she thought to herself in Spanish. Some thirty years later, now that she speaks, reads, writes, watches TV and everything else in English, she thinks to herself in that language rather than her first. Occasionally, she’s think to herself in Spanish. Also, I have a Russian friend who’s pretty new here. He says he thinks to himself in Russian alwaya. I gather it’s because his English could still use some help and he’s a lot more comfortable with Russian. So what about you all? What language(s) do you speak? Which is your first? What’s the official language of where you live? And which language do you think so yourself in? Just curious.

I think in the language in which I want to express myself. If I am thinking to myself, then it depends on the phase of the moon, I guess.

I think in an odd mixture of Spanish, English and Mighty_Girlish

I’m not fluent, but I spoke french as a kid. It’s strange, because sometimes I’ll end up thinking in one language and speaking the thought in another. I play this word game online where you rearrange letters to form words, and I’ll sometimes type in a french word and get really puzzled when it doesn’t accept it. I don’t even realize that it’s ‘not right’.

Fluently (I hope…)


Can read pretty well but can’t speak or comprehend


Cursory knowledge


Official Lingo

Back home, no such thing. In my state, local language Marathi is official, so is the national language Hindi as well as the associate language English.

I think in

For starters, I’ve never been accused of thinking. On the rare occasion, I suppose, Gujarati and English. But I don’t have to translate my thoughts into the other 2 languages I speak.

I’m out of practice now, but once upon a time I was becoming semi-fluent in Spanish, and got to the point where I could think in both English and Spanish.

My Spanish is now a bit rusty from lack of use…

I usually think in English (native language). After a couple of months of living in Germany, I began thinking in German. I got really freaked out when I watched an English film and found myself reading the German subtitles instead of listening. I also began to dream in German (even about my English speaking family and friends and about talking to them)

Dutchman, living in France, married to a Chinese.

  • Fluent in
  • Dutch
  • English
  • German
  • Reasonable in French

  • About 100 mandarin words

I have left Holland in 1999 for Singapore, and in 2002 we moved to France. My wife and I converse in English. At work, I mostly speak English. Not surprisingly, I find myself thinking in English more often than thinking in Dutch these days.

I speak:


All fluently. I find myself thinking for the most part in English, unless I’m talking to, or planing to talk to my mum, in which case I’ll start thinking in Kutchi.

Hmm, upon review, I’ve realized I can’t type for the life of me. Alwaya, as you may have gathered, should read always. And the parantheses around the ‘s’ in languages shouldn’t be there as we’re discussing dopers who speak more than one. Anywho, sweet Jiminy, dopers. We sure do seem to know a lot of languages around here. And here I was thinking I was tough stuff with my 1.7.

In order of fluency:
English (native)

Currently living in Japan

I do most of my thinking in English, but can switch to Japanese when I’m having a conversation. When my wife (Japanese) and I went to France for Christmas to visit my family, I had to translate between all three languages and got myself seriously cross-wired on a few occasions.

Languages: Swedish and English. Some knowledge of German, Spanish and Ancient Hebrew.
Native language: Swedish.
Official local language: Swedish.
Think to myself in: I’d say about 50-50 Swedish/English. In some way I find English better at giving my thoughts shape. I sometimes speak English without realising it until someone points it out to me.

My best friend’s first language is Mandarin, but you’d never know it unless she happens to mention it - her English is perfect and (Mandarin) accent-free. I asked her this once, and she told me that she mostly thinks in English, unless she happens to be talking with her parents or thinking specifically about China.

I’m NOT fluent in Hebrew, but when I was living in Israel, my (mostly American & Canadian) friends and I spoke a sort of English/Hebrew creole, and I know I personally thought in that creole. It took a long time back in the States before I stopped using random Hebrew words here and there. I still find it difficult to refer to a strike as anything but a shvita, or explain away a traffic jam as a ballegan.

Do you consider the above two separate languages ? I’m a foreign student in the US. When I speak to Pakistanis, they speak Urdu, I speak Hindi. We don’t even think that we’re speaking the other language.

About Gujarati and Ku(t)chhi. How different are those ?

Both Hebrew and Russian are native languages and my English is pretty good.

What language I think in? Depends.
After many hours in the internet lurking and posting in English forums I always think in English for quite a while.

In school and a few hours after returning from school, before I log in to the net, it’s Hebrew.

And Russian, well, it takes me a while to formulate a sentence so it’s not an easy language to think in for me. :slight_smile:

Most of the time I think in English, but quite frequently switch to Spanish. Not only does this exercise my Spanish vocab but helps with creativity.

Dreams can be in Spanish, Japanese, or occasionally some other language that I’d heard recently. You see, I have a knack for languages in that I find them extremely easy to pick up.

FTR, mother tongue is English and foreign language fluency is in Spanish. With Spanish comes understanding/recognition in many Latin based languages such as Portugese, Italian, French, etc… I also know a smattering of Japanese. Years ago also had picked up Hmong from a friend, but have lost it unfortunately.

First language: Icelandic
Second language: Danish
Third language: English

That’s only in terms of official schooling, though; even though I only started studying English in school at age 12, I had had a huge crush on the English language since the age of 5 or so (originally, I recall it having something to do with the way Americans pronounce their Rs – Icelanders roll theirs and the Americans’ way of doing it just sounded exotic and cool to me).

Today: Occasionally I think to myself in Icelandic, but I’ve found that a vast majority of the time my inner dialogues take place in English. I also generally cuss in English. Even though I speak Icelandic with the people around me on a daily basis, the English language seems for all intents and purposes to have overtaken Icelandic as my first language. I’m in full agreement with Priceguy: it’s just better for giving shape to your thoughts.

Spanish all the time. It’s a pain, specially when I’m in meetings or speaking in public, I have to make an effort to think and speak in english.

I don´t believe actual thoughts occur in any language, other than the language of the mind (which is why it can be so hard to put thoughts into words). Inner dialogue or phrasing thoughts in order to say them or to clarify them depends on the context for me. German, English and Finnish are my native languages, I speak Spanish fluently and have limited knowledge of Swedish, Galician and Catalan.

My inner dialogue-language depends on the topic and my mood. I live in a German-speaking environment, so thinking about most things (news, university, parties,…) I´ll speak to myself in German, if it´s something about Finland (or something to do with my sister), it´ll be Finnish, things to do with my Dad or directly English-related, English. If I´m thinking about a text, it´ll be in the language it´s written in.
I lived in Spain for the last year, and quite often will talk to myself in Spanish, especially if I´m cussing (the language just has nicer swearwords… :smiley: ) or if I´m feeling tranquil and happy. Emotional association, I think, because that was how I felt there most of the time. (Sometimes Galician, too, when I´m happy, but only certain things, and mostly because I love the sound of it. Mind you, this is already more of a conscious effort than automatic.) When I´m reasoning or arguing with myself, it´s German, sometimes English.
And in a conversation, when thinking about what I´m going to say, always in the language we´re speaking in.

French with a smattering of latin [sub]from my catholic school days…those nuns drilled it in my head for more than a decade[/sub]