My languages seem to hate each other

I’m taking Elementary Japanese 2 right now– the second level up from Japanese 1. I somehow managed to place out of Japanese 1. It was a miracle, actually. I did not do well on the placement test.

My Japanese was never that great in the first place, but at the moment it’s particularly bad. Perhaps because I haven’t spoken it in, oh, about a year. And for some reason, every time I try to muster up my Japanese, all that comes out is German. Or, on occasion, Spanish. Not that I’m proficient at any of those three languages.

It’s a common problem I’ve heard of, actually. When people try to learn multiple languages, often they get them mixed up. Find the right word in the wrong language. I’ve done it many times.Exchange students will often complain of this as they cope with multiple tongues.

Yet for some reason, my Vietnamese has never interfered with my other languages. I wonder why? Perhaps because I grew up with it. I can definitely understand it more intuitively than Japanese or German.

We’ll see. For now, I got to buckle down. My classes this semester are looking tough. Hopefully I’ll pull through.

12 thoughts on “My languages seem to hate each other

  1. Awww Vy, this was so cute!!! I often feel the same way while learning spanish. I especially felt that way sometimes last semester, while I was studying abroad in Chile! Thanks for making me laugh today 😀 Love you and miss you, my old tennis partner!

  2. That happens to me all the time too! I’ll be sitting in German class, and when the teacher asks me a question, all I can formulate is French sentences! And more often than not, I forget the Danish words when speaking with my friends and end up having to say it in English, after which they’ll tell me the Danish equivalent.
    I don’t think this ever really goes away. Oh the joy of being being multilingual 🙂 🙂

    • You know so many languages! Ahhh…. so cool!
      Hahaha, I had a friend who took French and Japanese simultaneously. Often he wouldn’t even realize when he was mixing up his languages. It’s a common problem!

  3. I know what you mean! Languages conflict so much, it’s annoying. Don’t worry, though, you are very bright and your brain will sort it out.

    Oh by the way! You’re totally the first person I’m going to tell, so here goes: I was planning on going to El Salvador with my aunts in two months…but they’ve changed their minds and want to go to Germany instead! I flipped out and immediately scrolled through the archives of Viet Girl Goes German!

      • I KNOW! We still have to buy tickets and work out exact details, but fingers crossed! I’ll be going for spring break, so only a week, BUT STILLLL! My mom is also going to be doing some business travel this summer to China, so maybe I’ll tag along with her, toooo!

        So far, the game plan is to fly into Frankfurt and then make our way over to Berlin over the course of a week. I have to ride a beer bike in Berlin–have to. Period end of story. ;D I’m so excited! I get to go have all the yummy food you had. And I’ll be sure to stop by McDonalds.

        • GERMANY? CHINA??? WHOAAA! That is SO awesome! Road trip across Germany… while I was with my host family, I didn’t get to visit all the major cities (I missed Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, to name a few) so TELL ME HOW IT IS! Also, EAT THE BREAD. And, of course, McDonald’s! 😀

  4. This often happens to me when I try to say something in a different language besides Japanese; I think in Japanese first, and I have to struggle to remember what the *actual* word is.

    • HAHAHA I KNOW THE FEELING! I’ll do this in Vietnamese or Japanese pretty often. Especially with Vietnamese foods, since there’s no perfect translation. For instance, “Bánh bao” literally means “cake bag” but actually refers to a very specific steamed dumpling containing pork, sausage, and eggs.

      • Haha, that’s a funny translation. I imagine it has a logic to it, though; the sausage, pork and eggs are “caked” into a dumpling skin that looks like a “bag”.

        Whenever I come across unusual translations (especially literal ones), I always try to justify them. 😛

        • Yup, true. A lot of Vietnamese words are like that; combining two basic words to make a new one with a very specific meaning. But it sounds odd when you translate it literally! Every language has its own logic, though 😉

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