“How bilingual brains switch between tongues”

Brief visions of two tongues being fitted, enabling one’s bilingual brain to slot the correct one into place as and when. (Aside: The Sufis say that two tongues of fire await those who speak with two tongues here and now.) I’d like to understand how this kind of stuff pans if the brain has doubts as to whether it’s dealing with two separate languages or with variation within one.

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Comments

  1. Bilinguality interests me, as I am an Englishman living in the Netherlands with a pretty good knowledge of the Dutch language. I wonder whether people don’t just react to the situation and switch without giving it a moment’s thought – assuming their grammar and vocab are up to it. I’d be fascinating to hear how speakers of Catalan and Spanish cope in a multilingual environment such as Barcelona, given the fact that locals must often have to switch to English or French as well, to cope with the tourists.

  2. Maybe I’m being unfair, but I imagine it would be difficult to underestimate the number of natives here who speak a third language to any degree of fluency.

  3. “the case of a trilingual woman with a damaged caudate region, who involuntarily switched between three different languages while speaking, says Price.”

    Ah, it was my damaged caudate region to blame then, when I went into a shop in Brittany just after spending two years on Madeira, and in response to a question about whether I wanted an extra croissant or something, I replied “Non, só cinq,” which I assume she heard as “No, bucket five.”

  4. For a single moment he really suspected premature caudation had been inflicted on him for his crimes. Thankyousorry.

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