I can only write about myself.I don’t know how other multilingual people are doing.
I grew up with Swabian, German and English.I moved to France at the age of 29 or 30, about 37 years ago. Unfortunately, the English language is a bit off for lack of practice, for lack of opportunity.
Normally I think in the language I’m speaking right now.With a quick transition from one language to another, it sometimes lags a bit, it may take maybe ten to thirty seconds. To switch to English I need a little longer, about two minutes. That is why I now want to visit an English-language discussion, a “Café des langues” here in the village.
I have to say that I think less in words, sentences and languages (except when conversations are about exact details or grip simplizers), but rather in concepts, contexts and images, smells, tones/sound, feelings.In several languages, corresponding expressions and accents are at hand “in the closet”. But not in some languages, then I have to search, sometimes rewrite.
The vocabulary available in a language (with subliminal meanings and double senses) seems to determine the ways of thinking of the people of this language area, and vice versa.
Anecdote from etw<a thirty years ago :
I had already lived in France, had invited one of my French acquaintances to Germany, he had taken me to a German family.
The reason was that as a young child he had been temporarily raised by a French aunt married in Germany, in French.However, he had never learned German.
This aunt, his godmother, died.He inherited from her.
So he wanted to go to Germany, to this family, to talk to them, to exchange ideas, to understand each other, to get to know them.
However, no one in this family spoke German.
So he had invited me to translate and took me with him.
It had been a nice stay, and very nice people 🙂 .
So I translated (is not my profession at all).
Then it happened: In the conversation, I turned off my own being, my consciousness, and simultaneously, at the same time.My brain, my “I” was somehow “off”. “I” as a person wasn’t there.
And then it happened “again”:
Several Germans spoke at the same time, so did my acquaintance.
I just spoke what has been said in the other language.
Suddenly they kept quiet and looked at me surprised and questioning.Since I “woke up” from this strange state, came back to me, to my “I”.
Apparently I got tangled up when several spoke at the same time,
apparently I had translated German statements into French in my head and then immediately spoke again into German, but in my words, and also vice versa, French into German and then again given to French by me, also with my own Words
I had apparently transferred twice, back and forth.
We came back to “normal” translation and drank a glass.Prost, Santé. Uff! 🙂
It had been a strange phenomenon.Didn’t “cancel” me. It had just been a strange event for me. That I can switch off and switch like this.
You never learn,
also not about himself.
Maybe that tells someone something here?