10 December 2012

Dreams in Foreign Tongues

I went to an event the other week. It was an Art Exhibition hosted by a Russian friend of mine. It was great.



The crowd was mostly European and there were a lot of Russians, some French and at least one Italian. I was the only Australian. Fair dinkum. There were not many Singaporeans in attendance. This did not surprise me. Not at all. I have been to the Art galleries of Singapore. All of them. There is a dearth of Singaporean Art. I have sought it out but have had little success. I have none at all actually. This particular Art was Russian. It was exquisite.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at this Exhibition. I wandered around and took in the artwork and I chatted away to people. They all spoke English. This was good and it was convenient. It was necessary in fact for I speak no Russian. Nor French. Nikto. Aucon. The sad fact is that I speak no other language than English. Albeit poorly. I am Australian.

We are uncouth. 

I believe that language exerts a hidden power. Like the effect of the moon on the tide. It sways and it pulls. To have many is very powerful. Languages that is. 

It is seductive. 

It is sweet.

Actually I can speak some animal. I know that 'meow' means 'woof' in cat and "Tweet" in bird. It is also ‘Oink' in pig. I also knew that I had to watch my language at this event. I swear a lot and I did not want people to think that I had no fucking class. Nearly every person I met at this function was multi-lingual. They spoke many languages. I asked them this and they told me.

I am fascinated by this ability to speak in another tongue. I told these people such as I expressed my admiration. I am also curious. I ask a lot of questions and I push for answers. When one speaks a language other than one's native tongue how does the brain process this? When I was conversing with these people did they in fact have to rapidly translate my words in their brain then re-translate their response? There didn't seem to be any time lag and our conversations flowed. Most had to think about this question for a while so in this there was a time lag. Some thought it was instantaneous and others thought it was very rapid.

Two or more languages in one brain? What about reading? How do you do that? I wish I could do that. Read in another language. What books I could explore. I could see for myself what may be lost in translation. To me no one can live at that speed. Yet they do.

They do.

I probed further as I am a prober by nature. I am curious. I can't help myself. Did any of these people actually dream in another language? Did they dream at all? How did this work? There was more pondering and more time lags as these questions were being contemplated. Such was the delay that I wondered whether they fully comprehended the question. Language can be a source of misunderstanding.  Most eventually said 'no'. They told me that they only dreamt in their native tongue. Some said they didn't dream at all. 

That was sad.

We should all dream. 

Van Gogh said "I dream my painting and I paint my dream" 

He likely said this in Dutch

Beautiful though huh?

In any language.

1 comment :