Growing up I never imagined to be fluent in two languages.
1. English is a West Germanic language that originated from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain in the fifth to seventh centuries by Germanic invaders and settlers from what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands.
2. German belongs to the West Germanic group of the Indo-European language family, along with English, Frisian, and Dutch (Netherlandic, Flemish). The recorded history of Germanic languages begins with their speakers’ first contact with the Romans, in the 1st century bc. (Source: http://www.britannica.com/topic/German–language)
When I was still at school – in East Germany at the time – Russian was compulsory from 5th Grade onward. I found it to be a very hard language to learn since it belongs to a different language family/branch. Having been taught 6 years in total with hardly any interest in the language I have forgotten most of it. Not having the need for it did not help.
As a teenager that was starting to find the Rock’n Roll and Music scene of the 80’s/90’s we tried to sing with the radio and learn scraps of English so as to know what the lyrics of certain songs talk about. But not having studied it we failed miserably. Just thinking about it today makes me smile.
When I met my husband, an Australian born German (yep, that’s right), living in Germany, I finally thought I had a good chance of learning English properly. But although he lived in Australia until the age of 7 (so already had started school there), he was of no help as he too hadn’t used much of his English between then and when we met 20 years later. So while he had some remnants of his earlier childhood to build his English on I had to start from scratch. That was 18 years ago.
A lot has changed for me since, I am more fluent in English than ever and have lost some of my German which is only due to the rarity of use. I have no doubt that it would all come back if the need ever arose.
There really aren’t a lot of negatives being bilingual rather the opposite. It is easier to get around with at least two languages. Communication and understanding, especially in a foreign country with signage in a familiar language makes moving around within it a breeze. Last but not least I now understand most of the lyrics that I couldn’t put together years ago. 🙂
Just to balance this post, one “negative” if you wish could be that when translating between the two I sometimes forget to switch back to the correct language. It creates mostly funny scenario’s where my companions or whomever I was translating for usually let me finish in the language foreign to them and at the end just plainly request to say it all again in their own tongue.
There you have it.
Do you speak more than one lingo? Would love to hear which one’s.
Until then, take care, stay safe and smile 🙂