trash vs literature

Irina Rempt irina at
Sat Jan 22 05:32:20 EST 2005

On Saturday 22 January 2005 05:43, Margaret Ball wrote:

> > Monolingual and bilingual brains differ, certainly, but I'm not
> > sure one is stunted.
> Well, let's put it this way: I am fairly sure my brain has two
> language compartments, one marked "English" and one marked
> "Everything Else." When called upon to produce a phrase from the
> second compartment, it is liable to pull out not the appropriate
> language for the situation, but whatever language was used last and
> is therefore lying on top of the heap. While this is normally no more
> than a nuisance, it has on occasion produced some *extremely* tense
> moments, like the time I spoke German in Crete. In a very small
> isolated mountain village. In 1966. (The Cretans were still pretty
> ticked off at the Germans at that time.)

I have a compartment marked "this language" and one marked "the other 
language". "This language" is filled by Dutch in most of normal 
day-to-day interaction with people, by English while writing (and when 
I happen to be in England, or we have English-speaking guests). 

When I was in high school I spent a month in North Wales learning Welsh 
in a family (I told them, in English, "this is the last English I'm 
speaking, either you teach me Welsh or I teach you Dutch"); going home 
I passed through Liverpool and found myself speaking Dutch in a shop, 
because that was "the other language". When they didn't understand me, 
I switched to Welsh, "the *other* other language".

(And the time I had to speak German on the phone when my friend from New 
Zealand was in the room-- I spoke Dutch to her, German to my daughter, 
and English on the phone)


Vesta veran, terna puran, farenin.
Beghinnen can ick, volherden will' ick, volbringhen sal ick.        Latest: 21-Jan-2005

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