Language which i think in
This is a question many of my friends ask me from time to time.
In the beginning when i came to Poland, my choice of language for communication was predominantly english. I dint know much polish to have a 5 minute conversation with someone. When i would talk with someone in Polish, the second person will automatically switch to english as my level of polish was not enough for a sensible conversation. I used to mostly think in Malayalam and from time to time in english.
After completing my studies in 2011, i started working in a small polish company. My work consisted of talking with drivers and small transport companies through out Poland. With drivers there was no chance of communicating in english, so i had to improve my polish. Polish job market during those times was pretty much inaccessible for anyone who didn’t speak some polish. So it was do or die. In order to improve my polish, i would constantly speak with natives and friends from Ukraine and Russia in Polish. During 6 days in the week i would speak polish for 90 percent of the time. Only on Sundays when i used to talk with my family members back home, i would use Malayalam.
I remember coming back home and thinking about many things in Polish. I would think about a conversation with my friend or with a client, and repeat those sentences in my head. It would be something irrelevant, but i would repeat it again and again in my mind. After about 5 minutes, i would catch myself and ask ‘hey!, which language are You thinking in?’ I would have this really alien feeling. 7-8 years back i couldn’t imagine speaking in a foreign language. Now when I am thinking in a completely foreign language, i would feel a sense of alienness. I cant explain that feeling. Suddenly i would switch back to Malayalam. Then i would continue thinking in Malayalam. Next morning, i would go back to thinking again in Polish. It is like a cycle. It is true to this day. I would come back from work, and start thinking in Polish.
Lately i had a conversation about this with one of my friends. I told them that it is very odd for me to think in Polish. i was feeling some remorse that i didn’t feel comfortable thinking in Polish. After all i can call Poland as my home. I imagine living here for many years to come. So how can i disown something that has to come natural to me? They told me the following…
If I am thinking of something that happened in my life during my childhood or the times when i was living in India, it is something natural for me to think in my native language. It is part of my life which belonged to India.
But when i am in Poland and i am thinking about my life in Poland, and what is going around me at present, i have every right to think in Polish. Now when i catch myself thinking in Polish, i don’t stop it immediately and switch back to Malayalam. I still have the unnatural feeling in my head, but i don’t stop myself any more from thinking in polish
During my day to day life, more than 50 percent of the time my thoughts are in Polish, and the rest in Malayalam. While writing this text, i start writing in english and then i translate the texts into Polish. Why? English is more native to me than Polish. I cant imagine writing my thoughts in Polish. i don’t have the language capability yet to do that.
So to answer the question ‘Language which i think in’’ It depends. If most of the day i am speaking in polish, then the answer is Polish. When i go back to India for a couple of weeks, i think all the time in my native language. I think it is a matter of surroundings. My surroundings decided the language in which i think in.