The Language Gremlins

I thought I had all eventualities covered when planning a trip to Tenerife . I had finished the Welsh 6 mth course 3 weeks before going and as I had joined the Polyglot Plan I had spent the time on SSiS and revised a few politenesses in German as I knew the people in the next apartment would be German. So I was speaking English to my husband, Welsh to myself, Spanish whenever needed and a few phrases of German to the neighbours. What could possibly go wrong?
All went well for the first few days, then we decided to try a new coffee bar and shock, horror, were greeted with “Bonjour Monsieur, Madame”. French! Where did that come from? That wasn’t supposed to happen! I was completely taken aback!
And that was when it happened ! The Language Gremlins threw up a brick wall between my brain and my tongue and I stood there opening and closing my mouth doing an impression of a goldfish but nothing came out. Then when asked what language I spoke a crazy mish-mash of sounds came from my lips. It went something like this - “Dw i’n hablo tipyn bach Cymraeg, ein bisschen Francais, un poco Deutsch, un petit peux Espanol y mucho Anglais ond all mixed up! “. Oh Dear! At least it broke the ice with some new friends and we all hd a good laugh. So Beware the Language Gremlins! They can strike anywhere and when you least expect it!

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:heart: :joy: :joy:

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Will a special ward be opened somewhere - perhaps in a university teaching hospital - for any of us who find that a “bout of the language gremlins” does not pass? Only the multilingual - medics & nursing staff - need apply for jobs there…

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Thank you for sharing. What a great story! :rofl:

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The answer here, surely, is to brush up on your Esperanto!

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Dw i’n hablo tipyn bach Cymraeg, ein bisschen Francais, un poco Deutsch, un petit peux Espanol y mucho Anglais ond all mixed up! “.

I DO understand! People say that learning languages might help to prevent dementia, but I say that my experience of learning Spanish, German and now Welsh will mean that I will go crazy in five languages, which includes my native English and the residue of forgotten school French which keeps popping out of my mouth, unbidden and at unexpected moments. It is as if I press a ‘foreign language’ button…and hope that the right language comes out!

Megan, Manchester

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Megan, I understand completely. It all sounds very familiar. But at least it puts a smile on our faces, doesn’t it?

I think you’ve caught polyglotitis :rofl: and I know the symptoms well!

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Vi pravas! Jen la solvo :slight_smile:

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OK! Dee. So you and Stephen have pushed me into translating that! “You’re right! Here is the solution” See! - I just couldn’t resist! So when are we going to see SSiE???

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As soon as Ifan and I can possibly convince Aran it’s a good idea :rofl:

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:rofl::rofl::rofl:

Actually, Esperanto is the one language that I think it’s fairly possible to learn using Duolingo. Occasionally people show up at UK Esperanto events, and start speaking Esperanto, then confess it’s the first time they’ve spoken to anyone and they learnt with Duolingo. So while you’re waiting for SSiE … :wink:

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Thank you, Dee. Sounds interesting. I feel some new investigation coming on!

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I wonder if that’s because it’s perfectly regular? (at least, I assume it is).
So you can definitively be either right or wrong about something, which is not always the case in Welsh! :slight_smile:

I wonder if it’s more because it’s not a “living” language in the sense that people are conversing in it day to day, so there’s no “meaning determined by usage” idea that you get in other languages, where word meanings change because the way people use them change. “Fantastic”, for example, now means “wonderful, amazing, brilliant” but originally meant “of fantasy” or “from the imagination”.

It is regular, so it’s possible to learn the basics and be able to guess what words are likely to be based on that knowledge, but once you get more experience with the language, you can use the rules to be quite creative and others will understand what you mean. I really enjoy Esperanto poetry for the subtleties of meaning and imagery that can be created in that way.

This happens to a much lesser extent than in other languages, although there are people living and working in Esperanto on a daily basis. What does sometimes happen is that new words get incorporated into the language from particular groups, and they need international contact to become really widespread. Fortunately, as most Esperanto speakers are very aware of the need to be understood internationally, that tends to take precedence over anything else. Personally I have found the odd word in fairly common usage in Europe that I never heard in Australia, but mostly the language is the same.

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Ie…at the cash register in a grocery store

:joy::rofl: