Learning a language (or two, or three) other than your own is one of the most valuable things you can do to further your knowledge. Not only does it broaden your horizons, but it also opens up new opportunities for travel, friendships, and cultural understanding. Nevertheless, despite all of the wonderful perks that come with being bilingual or multilingual, there are some quirks that all of us have to deal with in our daily lives. Without further ado, here are some potentially awkward and also winning moments that people who speak multiple languages can relate to.
1. Thinking in one language and speaking in another.
Me pregunto si tienen tacos de barbacoa hoy... "Are y'all serving barbacoa tacos today?"
2. Easily switching between languages when talking to different people.
And sometimes not getting it right, which results in –
3. Forgetting to switch between languages.
And being all "Parissaming gihilla enne ('go and come back safely' in Sinhalese)" to your roommate as she walks out the door while telling your mother on Skype "Yeah mom I've done my laundry."
4. Often wishing that expressions were universally translatable.
Why is there no English word for "sobremesa" - a Spanish word for the act of sitting at the table after a meal and continuing the conversation - or "gogatsubyou" - a Japanese word for a temporary productivity slump that occurs after achieving a big goal - ?
5. Having a wider selection of literature and media products.
6. The uncertainty when a native tells you, "Your (insert language here) is so good!" in a surprised manner.
Is this a compliment or a micro-aggression? I can't tell...
7. Being called a snob for pronouncing the name of a foreign place or food correctly.
8. Having a preferred language for certain tasks.
I know people who write their to-do lists in one language, listen to music of mainly another language, and jot down notes for class in yet another (and not necessarily the language the class is taught in).
9. Being an impromptu translator.
Through which you have saved the day countless times.
10. Some people's utter confusion at how you can possibly speak a language that does not belong to your ethnicity.
Person: "Oh, you speak Spanish? But you don't look Latina!"
Me: *Can't even see person anymore because eyes have rolled to back of head.
11. Being able to overhear people talking about you in a language they don't expect you to speak.
So. Much. Fun.