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…. or at least other people’s impressions of your personality. I think a lot of my German or English-speaking friends would describe me as at least somewhat outgoing and talkative. However, a few of Marco’s Italian friends who don’t speak English would probably disagree with that description.

Since my Italian can be described as rudimentary at best, I tend to be much more quiet among them. Yes, other people can translate what I say, but a real conversation is nearly impossible and jumping into an ongoing conversation? Forget it! Plus, since my Italian is not that great, it takes much more concentration to follow any conversation. That also leads to me being more tired than usual and therefore much more willing to call it a night much eaerlier than, say, in the US or Germany. I am fully aware that it’s up to me to change things, so I have sort of started to practice Italian with Marco a little more. It’s becoming a tiny little bit easier to communicate at this point. I can do some small talk, but I am far from being able to have a more complicated conversation. The conversations I am able to have in Italian would probably ressemble those you could have with a 4-year old. Well, probably I actually have less vocabulary than a 4-year-old 😉

And the changes in my perceived personality are also present when I switch between German and English – two languages I am very comfortable with. Since I only started studying English in 5th grade and moved to the US only about 6-7 years ago, I don’t have that instinctive feeling of “oops, I shouldn’t say that!” when it comes to curse words. I think I use a lot more “bad” words in English just because it doesn’t feel bad when I do. When I first moved here, I was an exchange student and consequently hung out around a lot of college kids. Therefore, the word “f*ck” in its many possible applications started creeping into my vocabulary more. I once helped a professor proctor an exam and very freely used the word “f*cking” in little funny comment I wanted to make. He looked at me with eyes wide open for what felt like a very long time and then started laughing extremely hard… and I think it was more the use of a pretty inappropriate word than my funny comment that made him laugh. Oh well… 🙂

I am trying to brush up on my languages a little these days and recently found these great blogs: French Blog and Italian Blog. They post little stories here and there about various topics – sometimes completely in that  language and sometimes just a few words. I’ve only been following for a little while, but so far I really like it and think it refreshes my memory about what I already know and teaches me a lot of new stuff. Seems like a fun way of getting more comfortable in foreign languages and learning more about the culture as well. It’s free and they have them in many languages. Go check out their website  here. They also have a word of the day feature that seems kind of neat.

Do you feel like your personality changes depending on which language you speak?

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  • astroyoga says:

    Definitely! I live in Germany, and I can speak fluently, but I still miss a lot of things, and my grammar is atrocious. With my German in-laws and friends, I can still act and jabber like myself knowing that I am making tons of mistakes, but if I am in a group situation (like my daughter’s daycare), I am this quiet, shy person. I can definitely be perceived as standoffish or just shy in a group of Germans that I don’t know well.
    astroyoga recently posted..St Martin

    • Sabrina says:

      I am glad to hear that other people have these weird split-personas also. Makes me feel better! You’re way ahead of me though… even with friends or family I don’t feel like I know enough Italian to just talk. But maybe I need to just get over myself and be willing to make a fool of myself for a while until the language gets better. Or move there for a while 🙂 I just read your St. Martin post. So cute! It actually made me a little homesick to see the video. So many good memories! I just thought of St. Martin a few weeks ago when we had kids at our door step for Halloween. Imagine I would have said “You want candy? Then you have to sing a song first!”?!

  • Andrew says:

    I try to crack jokes in German. I have an overactive sense of humor sometimes, pretty everything can be funny to me. I am always making little sarcastic jokes under my breath in English. Think the two old guys in the balcony in the Muppets. I like humor and count it at of my core things. German however doesn’t react the same way to humor.
    The language does not have all of the various synonyms that English does to create the large number of puns that makes English funny to just speak. Native Humor is German is something I am still trying to understand, but I get that it is very different than the English language humor.

    So I guess I come off odd in German. I laugh when something is funny to me, which happens a fair amount even when speaking German. It just seems to be less appropriate.
    Andrew recently posted..Fleshmarket Close

    • Sabrina says:

      Good point. I never actually thout about how many jokes there are in English that are based on synonyms. I think a similar type of joke in German would be more based on the grammar structure which can change the meaning of something. I think something that people here in Texas ignore is Schadenfreude (except the obvious “funny videos” on TV) . That’s when my giggles here become inapprorpiate sometimes 🙂

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