When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

General discussion about learning languages
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sporedandroid
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When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby sporedandroid » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:51 pm

For me it seems to do more with what level I’m at than anything else. When I was growing up there was a point where I was equally comfortable in English and Spanish. I had some embarrassing moments where I mixed up English and Spanish. One example would be speaking Spanish to my teachers. Sort of like calling my teachers mom. When I learned Icelandic I had pretty much no issues with interference. I even dabbled in other Scandinavian languages. Since my level was way lower in those languages I don’t think I noticed interference.

The real trouble started with Hebrew. It’s nothing like any languages I know, so I had a lot of trouble retaining any vocabulary. Even compared to non-cognates in Icelandic or Finnish words. When I had about a ten word vocabulary I remember some Hebrew words reminding me of Finnish words. The languages are nothing alike, but I still managed to have issues. When my Hebrew level got higher it kind of stopped happening.

What is driving me crazy is Icelandic. It started happening when I got to a certain level in Hebrew. Those languages are nothing alike, but it still trips me up to this day. When I was having a slump in Hebrew, I decided to see if raising my Icelandic level would help with this issue. Surprise, surprise. It didn’t. I guess I have to continue avoiding it for a while. It’s kind of sad because Icelandic feels like a part of me. I can’t even listen to music in Icelandic.

I recently noticed Hebrew is starting to interfere with Spanish. I’d say my overall Spanish level is higher than my Hebrew level. Spanish takes less energy to listen to and I think it’s just more solid overall. I notice my listening skills in Hebrew can sometimes be stronger since Spanish has a lot of dialects while Hebrew pretty much has none. I also seem to find some formal language in Hebrew easier. I end up finding podcasts in Hebrew easier to follow than Spanish podcasts on similar topics. It seems like Hebrew is interfering with all languages I seem to be struggling in right now. If I listen to something in a random language I know I’ll be making an effort to find Hebrew sounding words.
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Ug_Caveman
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby Ug_Caveman » Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:12 pm

As someone who studies mainly Dutch, that's easy - German.

I tried several times to get my brain to unmuddle them - my brain said no. Interestingly Swedish did not have the same effect.

In the beginning I had some small interference from the tiny amount of French I also know - primarily between "maar" and "mais", but that's not an issue anymore.
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby einzelne » Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:44 pm

Question: how many languages do you study/need to know? How many of them do you really need to be active? The easiest way to overcome the problem of interference is to keep one language active and confine yourself to passive skills in all others.
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby chove » Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:49 pm

Ug_Caveman wrote:As someone who studies mainly Dutch, that's easy - German.

I tried several times to get my brain to unmuddle them - my brain said no. Interestingly Swedish did not have the same effect.

In the beginning I had some small interference from the tiny amount of French I also know - primarily between "maar" and "mais", but that's not an issue anymore.


Haha I came here to say Dutch interferes with my German
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby sporedandroid » Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:28 am

einzelne wrote:Question: how many languages do you study/need to know? How many of them do you really need to be active? The easiest way to overcome the problem of interference is to keep one language active and confine yourself to passive skills in all others.

I don’t have any languages active besides English active at the moment. I just notice languages doing weird things inside my head. I don’t know if it will cause interference if I actually make them active.
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby lemme_try » Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:29 am

For me it happens all the time Mandarin taking over French. It is because my spoken Mandarin is much stronger than my French. However, with more and more practice of French, it is getting less.
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby Iversen » Fri Feb 26, 2021 12:53 pm

For me the big problem isn't languages, but dialects
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:08 pm

When?

1:around 3am, during a night shift. If it's a difficult one, my brain feels scrambled. Sticking to a language becomes hard (everything else too).

2:at the beginning. It always depends on the weakest language. The lack of knowledge in it triggers my brain to search something as close to what I'm looking for as possible.

einzelne wrote:Question: how many languages do you study/need to know? How many of them do you really need to be active? The easiest way to overcome the problem of interference is to keep one language active and confine yourself to passive skills in all others.


I need to keep at least two foreign languages sharp at all times, it may change to three, should my new job I am applying for require it. And letting the others fall into just passive mode doesn't pay off, because I've already regretted this several times, when I suddenly needed them. While I'd agree that it's probably not reasonable to keep a dozen in top condition at all times (there are limited hours in every day), sticking to only one is an extremely dumb and impractical choice for a lot of people. While I see where you're coming from, I don't find this assumption that different from "you should learn just one language=you should learn just English". Had I believed that nonsense, I would have ended extremely unhappy, bullied, poor, and stuck in my idiotic country of origin. Not everybody is learning just for fun, you know?
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby Skynet » Fri Feb 26, 2021 2:53 pm

Ug_Caveman wrote:As someone who studies mainly Dutch, that's easy - German.

chove wrote: Haha I came here to say Dutch interferes with my German



I tried to study German and Dutch at the same time and realised that there'd be far too much interference and the extra effort just wasn't worth the hassle. I quit Dutch and stuck with German. Surprisingly, I have never had issues with my French and Spanish. I am, however, expecting some interference when I start Portuguese.
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Re: When are languages most likely to interfere with each other for you?

Postby Agorima » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:59 pm

As a native speaker of a Romance language, pretty much all Romance languages and dialects could interfere with each other.
Last edited by Agorima on Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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