Lately, bits of German have begun to peek through my dreams. After several years of studying the language, to have a phrase, sentence, even a conversation appear in my dreams feels like I have passed a sacred milestone. Looking a bit more into the link between language learning and dreams, I found this New York Times article, which reads:
“…dreamtime fluency is a metaphor for becoming an insider, someone for whom the language isn’t foreign and whose own nativeness is neither feat nor achievement; it just is, as natural as breathing.”
I wish I could say German is no longer foreign, but that probably won’t be the case for many years. One curious thing, until the last six months I have never thought about language consciously while dreaming – in what I assume was English, my native language. Something about the appearance of German in my dreams causes me to actually register the change. It’s an “Aha, this is something different, but I know it” moment. Strange, isn’t it? Do you speak any other languages? Have they ever appeared in your dreams? (image via)
Most Chinese were intensely curious about foreign life, and they liked to ask certain questions … People tended to have extreme views of the US, both positive and negative, and they became fixated on fantastic details that they had heard … In China, I came to think of the United States as essentially imaginary: it was always being created in people’s minds, and in that sense it was more personal for them than it was for me. The questions reflected Chinese interests, dreams, and fears—even when people discussed America, the conversation was partly about their home.
… A Chinese person with options would never choose to live in a place like southwestern Colorado. The American appetite for loneliness impressed me, and there was something about this solitude that freed conversation. I learned there’s no reliable small talk in America; at any moment a conversation can become personal … Many Americans were great talkers but they didn’t like to listen … Leslie and I learned that the most effective way to kill our end of a conversation was to say that we were writers who had lived in China for more than a decade.
— Returning to America from a life in China, an article by Peter Hessler on returning to the US after living in China for 15 years (via the pandas)