Coño, fucking merda! How We Express Ourselves In Different Languages

Updated: 28/02/2022

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We often use different languages to communicate our different needs


How We Express Ourselves In Different Languages


I came across this sign in a bar while on holiday in Holbox Island, Mexico, and it made me giggle. I've always found it interesting how we choose to communicate what we are thinking and it made me reflect on how normal it has become for me to mix languages in the same sentence.

Holbox Island, Mexico is full of tourists from all around the world.

In my case, there are four predominant languages that I operate in: English, Italian, Spanish and Neapolitan, and it has become obvious to me that I subconsciously choose each one based on different criteria. Here are some that I’ve noticed:


Relationships 


I usually stick to the same language that a relationship has started in and this depends on which languages the person does and doesn’t speak. 
For example, I met my friend Alberto from Gran Canaria at a co-working space where English was the main language, despite being in the Canary Islands (Spanish speaking territory). His American English is excellent so our relationship was founded in English and continued this way until other Spanish speakers were introduced to our conversations. It then made sense to join the majority and speak in Spanish.
I remember that I tried to return to English in future conversations with Alberto, but it felt strange and Alberto even resisted, and started replying in his native Spanish, perhaps because he now was confident of my ability to understand and communicate with him?

This is often the case in other relationships when people are multilingual whether it be with friends, family or a spouse. 

Emotion


How I am feeling in any particular moment also impacts the language that I choose to use. There are some words and expressions that are able to convey your emotion more accurately, in languages that may not be your native. 
Strong emotions like joy or anger become associated with equally powerful words in different languages and these shine through in these moments of spontaneous reaction. These are some of my most common examples:

When i hit my knee on my dining table - "Hijo de puta! "
When food tastes amazing - " Oh my god, buonissimo "
When something doesn't quite go my way - " Managg' "
When I have to get on with something I might not want to do - "Jamm a vere' " or "Dale pues, vamos"
When I'm shocked - " What the fuck! Que loco! "

Environment


I travel a lot with my partner who is also trilingual and we have found that when we are in a different country, we will often speak a different tongue to that of the local language. Is that strange? 
It may be because we feel that others won't understand us so it gives us a certain level of privacy, especially if we need to make a specific decision. I recall one example being in a shop in Bristol, UK, and the assistant trying to make a sale. My partner turned to me and we began discussing our options in Spanish before returning to English and reply with our answer. 
Speaking a foreign language with a partner can be used for privacy

No equivalent terminology


I can often use words from two or three languages in the same sentence. I believe this is often because there isn't an equivalent or a specific word in my original language for what I'm trying to say.
Here’s an example I often use, “Shall we do an aperitivo at the chiringuito en la playa tonight?”


Conclusion 


Entonces, alla fine there are many reasons why we “chop and change” between languages; for different people, in different contexts, for clarity and to express our emotions fully. There is nothing wrong with it, it's pure, natural expression of your self. It's actually fascinating to reflect on it and notice when and why you do it. Try it!


Steve

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