Bilingual Dreams


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Here's one for all of you who are multilingual:

Do you dream in your dominant language?

Do you find yourself dreaming regularly in other languages?

Have you ever dreamt in more than one language in the same dream?

Have you ever tried to remember how to express a concept in a language, only to dream later and have the concept or phrase come to you in your dreams in the language? (Points if you dreamt it and it was "right" in your dream, bonus points if you woke up and discovered that the translation was truly correct in real life.)

Is there a favorite language you dream in?

Yes, I know these are random questions and thoughts, but it's been on my mind lately.

I'll share my answers to these questions soon, but I would love to hear how others do with them first.

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I think I dream primarily in English but I can speak and understand Hebrew and English about the same, it's just a shifting of gears. I know people in my dreams often speak and argue in Hebrew, but I think I speak in English because in the U.S. it's become my only spoken language, so I know the two flip-flop back and forth when I'm sleeping.

I know the Israeli's who never spoke English, don't speak English in my dreams, but Americans are suddenly bilingual - speaking a mixture of English and Hebrew in my dreams, even though they've never spoken a word of Hebrew in real life.

I think I prefer dreaming in Hebrew because the less I do, the more I feel like I'm losing my connection with my kids and country, and there are concepts, experiences and things that don't have an English word or take a sentence or two to try to explain. It's also a more specific language. I feel sorry for the translators. But I do feel like when I deal with subconscious issues in my dreams, there's more clarity in Hebrew, then as I wake up, I find myself quickly trying to switch over what I learned and took with me before I forget.

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BrDevon do you use sign language in your dreams at all?

More than I do in my waking life. I have a host of spoken languages too. Funnier still, when I dream about my father I tend to use spoken Latin because he loved the language, and I was the only kid in the family who wanted to learn it. Most obscure is when I sing in foreign languages - most obscure offering: Romanian. A little ditty called Dragosta Din Tea (you may have heard of it as the "numa numa dance".) (I had a coworker years ago who came from Romania and ultimately became an American citizen. He taught me how to sing it with the proper accent. We used to drive our coworkers crazy singing it when I did prep). I also get back all my Yiddish when dreaming of my old neighborhood where the Bubbies (grandmothers) used to speak it all the time. I was conversationally fluent as a kid because it was easier for me to speak their language than have them try to learn mine. (It was also a sign of respect.)

Here's a real weird one for you: when I dream of my early childhood, I revert back to British Sign Language, which was the first Sign I ever learned. I can't remember it when awake, other than some of the alphabet - the thing that gives it away is that the alphabet is signed with two hands instead of one. I always found that awkward, especially when one needs to talk and try to carry anything. I also dream of having my hands slapped when I try to sign as a child in my dreams. My parents would not allow me to sign in their presence until I was in college. The "experts" brainwashed them into believing that if I was allowed to sign, I would not learn English. What a load.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It may only be because I saw this topic title in "New" yesterday, but last night I had a dream where everyone seemed to understand me, but I could not understand anyone when they spoke. Not just in foreign languages, but things I'm not sure are languages. Very strange, not so much nightmarish as just plain odd. Right at the end before waking (in terrible pain) did things revert to English and then I couldn't quite "get" what the person was yammering on about.

I'm looking into a "Dream" site in another tab, but so far haven't found much useful info about this language thing. I have found fairly reliable info on other subjects about dreams at:

Dream Moods

and also decent definitions at:

Dream Dictionary

Blessings Be,

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  • 1 month later...

On occasion I do dream in other languages. Once when I was living in Mexico - I was staying with a lovely Mexican family and had a very rare nightmare.

I awakened the entire family with my enraged battle of whatever demon I was attempting to slay in my sleep...must have been a big one.

They rushed in fearing for my safety - and flipped on the light - I woke up and found I was illiterate in all languages - which terrified me even more. NOTHING clicked. Not word or gesture for several seconds.

When my brain finally did activate - the Spanish words finally started to tumble out and we all had a very good laugh. I never had such a moment - before or since. But for a few seconds I had the command of no language.....both a scary and funny happenstance. We refer to it as my complete and total literacy blackout.


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when i was living in germany,most of my dreams were in german.that was a good thing,as when i talked in my sleep,unless those around me were more fluent than i was/am,i couldn't be understood.if it happens now,i'm not sure what is being said.i've lost what i remember when awake.

Edited by mark 45
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