Multilingual folks: Does your personality shift at all when you switch languages?

I am not really multilingual. I know only a smidgen of Spanish. But it seems to me that different languages have somewhat different emotional styles. (Or perhaps it’s just the cultures which use those languages.) It leads me to wonder: for those of you who are multilingual, do you find that your personality shifts somewhat to “fit” the language you are speaking? Or am I wrong in my thinking?

And if your personality does alter depending on language, are there any of you for whom the change feels radical? Are you more gregarious in one language than another, for example?

If I go into my second language around English speakers, it pretty much remains the same. If I do it around other people of that group it does shift slightly. But it is more switching to societal norms in speech and general posture than an actual personality change.

Brazilian Portuguese feels more flowing and cheerful to me than English.
The language really does come out differently, IMHO.

One simple example of a difference: Portuguese takes the usage of diminutives to a level unheard of in English, with folks adding cutesy endings to everything, including manly names. This adds a different feel that probably affects my perceived personality to some extent.

Hola. Native English here. But, I have lived in the Yucatan for 9 years. I speak Spanish/Maya 97.6% of the time.

I don’t understand “personality shift” in the OP. But, I can say I use different gestures, intonations when I speak Spanish and Maya.

As for the “more gregarious”, I think the Latino languages require a bit of a dance when talking. So, I do that. Maya is more reserved.

Speak 3. Accent changes. If the same is linked with personality, then yes.

When my brother and I speak Dutch together, my mother says we sound aggressive (her Dutch is not very good). I don’t feel any different.

When I use sign language, I try to make my face more expressive and animated, because that is part of the language in a way. So I might seem different. I sometimes have a different idea of people’s personalities depending whether they sign or talk. One of my friends says everything in a sarcastic drawl when she is speaking but that tone is completely absent when she is signing. It’s more an affectation than a change in personality but it’s more pleasant to sign with her.

Yes. My father was the same way too.

For me in France it used to be a bit of the reverse: I learned my French in NE France and being British anyway, speak with a bit of a German accent. This did not go down well, especially among the older French, until they twigged that I was actually British, whereupon their attitude changed completely. I used to try to work my British origin early in the conversation.

You’re talking about linguistic relativity, the concept that “the structure of a language affects the ways in which its respective speakers conceptualize their world.” Also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. Jack Vance explored it in a fascinating short science fiction novel called “The Languages of Pao.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

No. My personality remains the same, whether I’m speaking English or Afrikaans.

FWIW, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (your language determines your world view) has taken a few beatings, to put it mildly. At the low point it was synonymous with “racist bullshit”, and mentioning it would be a sure fire way to make a linguist flinch. These days, the pendulum seems to have swung back the other way a bit, to “Yeah, maybe there’s something to it, in a minor sort of way”.

The Hopi having no sense of time, because of how their language works? Bullshit. The Hopi language having no way to express time? Actually, that turned out to be bullshit, too, so the premise was bogus to begin with. Eskimos and a billion words for snow? Bullshit. The idea that if Eskimos had a billion words for snow, if would make them see the world radically differently from a non-Eskimo? Probably mostly bullshit.

On the other hand: How many and which words for colors your language has will influence how you see color? Well, it sounds like it should be bullshit, but weirdly, it seems to work somewhat, according to experiments.

Anyway, for the OP’s question:

I don’t know if English/Norwegian even counts as bilingual these days, but if does, then the answer is “no”. I’m exactly the same grumpy asshole in either language. I may sound more polite in English than in Norwegian, as Norwegian usually doesn’t bother as much with the “dear sir/madam” formalities as English does. But on inside? Nah, same asshole.

English does?

For me there’s a slight difference, probably caused by the fact that almost my entire professional life has been conducted in (American) English. I’m probably more direct, use less euphemisms in Dutch.

Not really, beyond the natural effects of living in a new language. I’m a little more humble since I’m aware that I make more than a few mistakes, and after the same time, a little thrilled at doing somethings so difficult with relative ease.

Here is one story that was told me by a friend who was born and grew up in Quebec City. His father was French Canadian and his mother was English speaking Irish. They spoke English at home and he learned street French. He went to English language schools, and then went to Laval University, which is completely French. He brought his GF, eventually wife, home to meet his family. She spoke no English at the time and so they spoke French. He said it was the first time he had ever had a real conversation with his father in French and he was floored by how different his personality was. That is one anecdote, but it impressed me.

Fascinating. That’s the sort of thing I was wondering about (although judging from the thread responses, there seem to be lots of counter-examples, too).

No, can’t say that it does. Any changes are due to the different cultures associated with those languages, but languages themselves don’t really affect how we see the world or engage with it.

Sarcasm is, for the most part, wholly nonexistent in Japan, so living there I had to get used to not using it. I don’t think that changed my personality so much as it, overall, reduced the amount that I use sarcasm on the whole (since I got out of the habit).

This implies more of a cart-horse problem. It might well be that the correlation of personality and language is due to the fact that people from certain cultures are more likely to speak the languages associated with those cultures. E.g. Mexicans are much more likely to speak Spanish. If they speak another language, it’s probably more likely to be English than, say, Mongolian, Latvian, or Pashtun. This makes it rather difficult to examine how speaking Latvian might affect the thought processes of a person of Hispanic background. Perhaps some serious studies along the lines of Hari Seldon’s anecdote might provide some information. Find a place where we can find cultures and languages intermixing heavily. Perhaps some place like Belgium, Switzerland, or Finland where bilingualism or trilingualism is very common.