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[QUOTE] there was a little pond of words coming from leaking pipes.[/QUOTE] This was also my favourite turn of phrase in Kofoguz's passage! Such a vivid, tactile, and yet surreal phrase, while also cleverly invoking our familiar problems linking URLs! Good stuff! Perhaps it was Nabokov, but I remember a Russian author who had fluency in English before Russian, and how that affected his sense of words and writing. Not only that, his fluency with both led to him translating his own work between the two languages! I can imagine that for a language that has a rich literary history steeped in a particular culture, the sense of "common sense" and "expected knowledge" or typical structure must be challenging to convey with brevity in the unusually cosmopolitan English. Which brings me to another point: I have familiarity with a few languages like French and Japanese, but the only two that I can speak with real fluency are Cantonese and English. There are a number of grammatical tics in Cantonese that resemble the grammar of English, but the sensation of subject omission in sentences which feels very natural in Cantonese becomes clipped and terse in English. I don't think it's an abnormal thing that people have trouble "thinking" in a language that they are not fluent in (for instance, I cannot think in Japanese except for a few extremely simple thoughts; I think in Cantonese or English and then translate those thoughts to Japanese), but even then, there is "resonance" with words that simply isn't there in spite of my exposure and familiarity with them. The best example of this for me is that the "-kun" suffix in Japanese which can denote a small male thing and can be used as a term of endearment/affection/awww-its-so-cute has a 100% perfect analogue in Chinese. However, the sensation I get when hearing the Chinese one is visceral and delightful, while hearing the Japanese one is not; I've heard the Japanese one enough to be able to understand it instantly without thinking, and having seen it used in a zillion manga/anime/games/movies/whatevers I should have enormous amounts of exposure to it in emotional contexts, but still I do not feel anything from it. I intellectually understand it should map to the Chinese one exactly, but I cannot feel the way I do with the Chinese one without simply saying the Chinese one in my head. I suppose I could in a Pavlovian fashion build the association internally that way, but that feels like brainwashing myself. It makes me wonder if it will ever possible to have a native language "feeling" with a language learned much later in life. Is the wiring of our brains and thinking so profoundly influenced by our initial languages that it becomes impossible for us to feel in other languages without building the association in terms of the languages we have already been wired in? I have another theory about learning languages which is that learning proficiency with a language is easier for children due to social/environmental things as opposed to merely mental plasticity, but when it comes to developing emotional resonance with a language, I wonder if adults can learn it viscerally the way children can, or if it must come through the act of mapping.
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