A few days back I saw a discussion at kottke.org regarding Bilingual conversations. Interesting topic. A bunch of people commented following that thread. One guy mentioned how he thinks one type of thought in Dutch and another in German, etc.. I then realized that when it comes to thinking, I can¡¯t tell which language I am using. For me, thoughts don¡¯t seem to use grammar and spelling.
A good friend of mine is a native Cantonese speaker. We communicate in English always because Cantonese is beyond me. One day I was in her car and she was playing a Cantonese singer¡¯s CD. At the end of the song I turned to her, ¡°All the while I had no idea what she was singing but suddenly I realized I understood one complete sentence crystal clear! So I knew she sang that in Mandarin. ¡± My friend raised her eye brow, ¡°THAT, was in English.¡± You can imagine how shocked I was. Apparently I reached the ¡°end¡± without noticing which ¡°means¡± I¡¯ve taken to get there.
Here are a few division of tasks I’ve noticed. When counting I have to use Chinese, same with doing simple arithmetic, especially when multiply-table is involved. When swearing, English is the language of choice. I have no problem with any four-letter words. But merely ¡°think¡± in Chinese dirty words makes me feel embarrassed. 🙂