Native of German, but sometimes English still is easier [just wanted to share]

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langmon
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Native of German, but sometimes English still is easier [just wanted to share]

Postby langmon » 2018-11-09, 1:25

Recently I sent a message to someone using whatever way of sending messages I have been using, telling him why exactly I, although being a native of German, would only use it on very rare occasions for my language-related activities. This was also, but not only, about English being easier for myself sometimes. Yes, really.

Later I realized that what I wrote could also be of interest to some of you because of certain language-related aspects mentioned. Even when I am quoting my own message (rather than someone else, and I don't do that at all even in an anonymized fashion), I am not even indirectly mentioning something someone else said to me in a personal message. Also, I shortened it a bit and maybe changed a few words, but that's all.

So here you go:

There is something about the creative juices. Whatever I said in the Swahili log (first post) [this would be in the African languages subforum] about my language related energy, it is as described. However, there also is a Grand Total. Whenever I have some language energy, I only have so much of it until it is gone. Then I cannot do any language related activities until it comes back, and this possibly would require even some sleep, not just one hour, but the full required amount of sleeping.

There are some actions that could reduce that battery's (or accu's/accumulator's) power rather quickly, and there are some other actions that could even be close to a Instant Sudden Complete Drain.

For the sake of a more complete picture: Have you wondered why I, despite being a native of German, are able to use English in a way that is at least rather close to the fluency of native speakers? This is something I simply am very grateful for. So... this is about myself, literally, not -> thinking <- monolingually. I sometimes formulate my thoughts in German, and sometimes in another language like English. This already started in my youth, and that was many, many years ago. There is more than one person whom I spoke to in English, too, even if both of us are natives of German. I had a long conversation with someone that lasted several hours, and this is happened sometime in the non-distant past. I simply had to switch to English several times (African/Caribbean English to be exact), otherwise I would have severely interrupted the flow of conversation.

And even whenever it was easier for me to express my thoughts in German (still within the same conversation), I had to drop many English words and phrases, otherwise I would have caused a minor stagnation, if not more. Whenever I am able to talk to someone that way (i.e. that person hasn't got any issue with myself switching back and forward), I fully prefer it.

At the time I am re-reading my message before sending it, I got an additional thought. If it is an English only conversation, then the same doesn't necessarily even apply! This could be related to the fact of myself having read about "just any subject" of my interests very often, many times, in English, but not necessarily in German to the same extent, speaking of some of them...

Otherwise (if I am "forced" to use German only) I have to limit myself and my possibility of expressing things, especially, but not only, when it is a conversation where a multitude of topics can be mentioned.

You may also want to know that even if my native language is German, I only would use it on a few very rare occasions in the forum. This is because, as surprising as it may seem, using it for any language related activities is one of the faster ways to either reduce that battery's capacity or even entirely drain it at times. I am already using German for many other things in my life, and if one language would be enough for me, I suppose that there wouldn't be [NoBragAsUsual] more than 10 on my learning list, and a certain number on my second one which is mental only and for micro-learning/familiarization.

There could be some very rare cases where using German in a mutual way [speaking of language-related activities] doesn't drain from my batteries, but they are very, very rare and limited, thus not even mentioning them.

And as for myself theoretically making corrections, in addition to them requiring myself to use German (already mentioned the effect above a short time ago :)), there even would be an additional battery draining factor. They would remind me of school and some rather stubborn teachers, in addition to requiring a great amount of thinking. Because it is at least easier to know that it simply is possible to say something in a certain way. But to know that something certainly is outside of the scope of Standard German there is a lot of additional thinking required, because for many things, there are several possibilities of saying them.
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md0
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Re: Native of German, but sometimes English still is easier [just wanted to share]

Postby md0 » 2018-11-09, 5:42

I think it's quite straightforward, even without the use of metaphors. Exposure is key.

I rarely read in my native language, and especially not in the formal registers of the language (I will ignore the diglossia issue altogether and assume the higher registers belong to the same language).
So when I have to write in it, my language is not as cultivated and it takes more effort for me to compose a text that doesn't verge on stream of consciousness. I don't have stereotyped expressions/syntactic frames and experience with careful sentence planning to fall back to, so I have to think more about the form when writing. And of course vocabulary is also all about exposure.

As for correcting learners' grammar and language use, I don't find it draining in the same way but it's still hard to do. In my case it's probably related to the diglossia issue.
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langmon
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Re: Native of German, but sometimes English still is easier [just wanted to share]

Postby langmon » 2018-11-12, 10:25

md0 wrote:I think it's quite straightforward, even without the use of metaphors. Exposure is key.

Sure, this is mainly about exposure.
And as for metaphors, did I use some?

md0 wrote:I rarely read in my native language, and especially not in the formal registers of the language (I will ignore the diglossia issue altogether and assume the higher registers belong to the same language).
So when I have to write in it, my language is not as cultivated and it takes more effort for me to compose a text that doesn't verge on stream of consciousness. I don't have stereotyped expressions/syntactic frames and experience with careful sentence planning to fall back to, so I have to think more about the form when writing. And of course vocabulary is also all about exposure.

It really was interesting to read about someone else experiencing something comparable to what I am experiencing, too. (Although I am aware that I am far from the only person who isn't always able to use his native language in the very same way as The Vast Majority.)

md0 wrote:As for correcting learners' grammar and language use, I don't find it draining in the same way but it's still hard to do. In my case it's probably related to the diglossia issue.

People can differ greatly about that "draining" effect, I'd say :). For me, it is as I described in the first post. That's why I possibly wouldn't be able to add too much to the threads in the German subforum. Although I intend to do it sometimes.

Because of asking a rather large number of questions in the various subforums, I try to give back more than I take, or at least something like an equal amount, using four other ways, rather than correcting too many German-related mistakes :). This would be about:
- Asking my questions in a way that also can provide some learning-related input to some of the learners reading them
- Whenever a question of mine is answered, I also like to post a follow-up reply that contains some information of some significance to those learning the same language (whenever I am able to do so). That follow-up wouldn't "require" a reply unless it would include something like an additional explicitly stated question.
- The two links in my signature.

I am mentioning this because I wouldn't feel comfortable with the idea of taking too much without giving, and I also wouldn't want to cause that impression even.
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Vlürch
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Re: Native of German, but sometimes English still is easier [just wanted to share]

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-12, 13:43

Everything you described sounds just like my experience. The only difference AFAICT is the difference in our methods of learning, mine being all about reading grammar stuff and simply memorising individual words; I wish I could get some kind of immersion, but that's impossible with my (lack of a) social life and undecidedness when it comes to which language I'd actually be able to dedicate myself to fully... not to mention that I can't practically interact with native speakers of any language except English at a helpful rate.

Anyway, like you in German, I'm unable to talk about languages in Finnish without throwing in Finnishised English words that may have actual Finnish equivalents that aren't just English loanwords. What md0 said also applies to me, since I don't read/write much in Finnish; Finnish translations of books that were originally in other languages are always cringy as fuck (so I prefer to read in English, regardless of whether the books were originally in English or just English translations of books that were originally in other languages; some would say that English translations are cringy as fuck too, but I've never gotten to the level in any language where I could read an actual book in them) and in my experience Finnish books about linguistics and history make some outrageous and dishonest claims that seek to demystify ancient languages/cultures, language isolates and unsolved problems even at the expense of facts, etc. with the most "mundane" explanation being The Truth™, so I have no interest in reading them.

(Of course that's not all Finnish books about linguistics or history, and I don't think I've ever read any in their entirety; however, those that I have started to read that made me say "WTF" out loud made me not want to continue reading them. There are a few that I'm currently reading that don't give off that impression, but I'm a very slow reader and not at all dedicated so it can take me years to read a book with like 300 pages because sometimes I take breaks that last months.)

As for the "draining", I experience the same when it comes to correcting learners. Half of the time I'm not even sure if something in broken Finnish is actually incorrect, or rather I feel like it is in my gut but can't pinpoint why. Just correcting without an explanation would feel lazy and judgemental. And correcting English? Hahaha, I'd just be rightfully told to not do that since I'm not a native speaker and because I intentionally use some non-standard expressions and words myself just for fun.

What I think it comes down to is that English is pretty much the global lingua franca kinda like how Latin used to be the European lingua franca, especially among academia. The terminology on cases and whatnot in European languages is usually derived from Latin (and Greek), at least indirectly, so if this "problem" of it being easier to talk about languages in English is actually a common occurrence (which I suspect it is), it's more or less just a continuation of that with the exception that it's no longer necessary to learn a language in its entirety to talk about linguistics and whatnot because the gap between the elite and the masses has been bridged by improved education and especially the internet. Maybe it's different for those who've properly studied linguistics since they learn all the terminology in their native language (which AFAIK is still derived from Latin and Greek in most cases), but for those who just learn from the internet (like me)... well, you know.


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