One of the most common struggles of being bilingual is trying to find a specific word in the other language. It’s in your head, you know you know it and it’s driving you crazy!
This was a constant struggle. Don’t even get me started on papers or tests in school. That’s when the pressure is on and you’re just sitting there staring at the ceiling and feeling like an idiot. Am I an idiot or am I just bilingual?
Writing a Greek paper for example and not having a lot of time yet and having the word in English in my mind and I’m just sitting there, driving myself crazy trying to remember what the word is in Greek. I eventually raise my hand to ask the teacher just to get a “No questions!” and sit once again in despair.
Try having a few minutes left and just want to write the word in English and get it over with. This is how my mind works OK? My mind consists of equal Greek and English, as do my dreams, as does my everyday life.
If you relate to this, you’ll know this struggle also becomes a source of mocking among your friends. You can’t think of how to say a word in one of the languages and end up simply saying it in the one you can and they all look at you like you’re an alien. Even if they know the language a bit (like my Greek friends know a bit of English) they then start making fun of your accent. You’ll feel even more like an idiot when the word is insanely simple. I remember forgetting what the word for “tree” is in Greek one day. Now this is an extreme example, but unfortunately its true. Most of the time this happens with more complicated words than “tree”.
Interesting fact: This phenomenon is actually called “tip-of-the tongue state“. So now you know what to call it-instead of something as vague as my title 😛
Ugh, this is how the bilingual brain works people! And yes, I have an accent, I’m not pretentious nor trying to show off. Even though it may surprise you, this is how I actually talk.
Do any of you relate to this or am I alone in this struggle? What are other situations besides school tests and friends when you’ve found yourself struggling trying to remember the word? Let me know and we can struggle together 🙂