In celebration of being bilingual

You can’t help but be smug


According to a new study, people who only speak one language may have better insight and keener judgement than those who speak two. And sure, that makes sense. If by better insight and judgement they mean being less interesting and able to speak to less people in the world.

Being bilingual is – obviously – pretty great. If you’re lucky enough to have known two languages for as long as you can remember, you didn’t have to spend years pouring over verb tables, going to conversation classes and trying to have a perfect accent. It just happened. And there are certain other things that those who are bilingual definitely understand.

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Your friends will ask you to “teach” them another language

They don’t mean sitting down and learning tenses and verbs, do they? No – this means teaching them every swear word there is, especially if a foreign swear word has a really funny direct translation in English.

When you were younger your friends listened as you rattled off a list of swear words with more concentration than they ever showed at school, and would use them at any given opportunity. You never had the heart then to correct their pronunciation when they showed so much enthusiasm, and you probably still don’t.

As you get older, their attentions shifts from swear words towards asking for booze in creative ways.

Your friends listen in to your foreign phone call 

You know the drill: when a relative calls, you should probably answer. In another language. It was embarrassing when you were younger and you tried to keep your head and voice as low as possible while your friends laughed and mimicked the particularly silly sounding foreign words you were rattling off at speed in order to get your mum/dad/aunt/grandparents off the phone.

As you got a bit older, you’ve realised just how cool it is to speak another language fluently and when you get a call you dramatically roll your eyes at your friends and assure them that you HAVE to take it (you don’t) and then proceed to loudly while your friends watch on in awe.

12767343_10207088894678490_2080488149_nAccidentally slipping into the wrong language

Sometimes you’ll be really tired or worked up and without realising you’ll accidentally drop in some foreign words to whatever you’re saying. If you’re really on one then you’ll just start talking entirely in your native language altogether, leaving whoever you’re talking to extremely confused.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does you accidentally give the impression that you don’t actually have a grasp on either of the languages.

It might have happened to you a lot when you were younger when you felt shy or stressed at school – that wasn’t a big deal, but when it happens now it’s much more pressing… largely because it often happens when you’re talking about someone nearby and either your description of them or the bitchy comment slips out in English. Either way, it’s not ideal.

Never fully speaking either language with your family 

Something beautiful happens in a bilingual home: you take your favourite words from the two languages you can speak and mix them together to make a new language. The words for grandparents, aunts, uncles, will automatically be in your native language whenever you talk about them and there are certain other things that will never be referred to in English. Usually food. Examples of these new languages include Spanglish and Franglais. 

12787500_10153927191429431_823231770_oYou’ve done the same journey more times than you can count

If you speak another language fluently, chances are you travel a lot – and this isn’t the same as being “well travelled”. You probably haven’t even been to that many places, but you go to the same single place a LOT. So much so that you know at least two airports like the back of your hand and you have your travelling routine down to a T.

Being on a plane has become second nature to you, and you know you always have some relatives in another, more interesting part of the world.

The overwhelming excitement of meeting someone who speaks the same language

You obviously don’t get excited when you’re out in the UK and you meet someone who speaks English – so why is it SO exciting meeting someone here who shares your second language? You’re instant best friends with them, and ditch your English friends to talk to them about where they’re from, where their family’s from and what on earth they’re doing here.

When you haven’t spoken your second language in a while, it’s the best feeling in the world, and it’s even better when it’s fuelled by alcohol.