From a 90s kid of an immigrant: 5 perks of being bilingual

Being the 90s kid of an immigrant is twice a win. First, you get to grow up in a globalized world that brings cultures and languages together and you get to have more than one mother tongue. The result? You think in plus que una lengua au même ua9t. More than once I have found myself knowing a word in a language but being unable to remember it in the other, it feels like being voiceless but even worse. I was in Belgium, trying to order some of their ‘famous frites’ while having a conversation in Spanish and when I was asked (in French) what I wanted, all I could do was stare deeply into the servers’ eyes and say “em. um. ba… frites. white sauce’’

Are there any perks to being someone who cannot make proper sentences? Congratulations, there are.

1. More perspectives

Depending on the language you speak and its grammar, you see the world in a way or another, so if you speak more than one… do the maths. More languages mean more perspectives and how amazing is that?
Not only that, depending on which language we are using at the moment, we will decide in a way or another. For example, we tend to be more rational and risk averse when thinking and taking decisions in our second language.

2. Our mind just works better

The fact that we have to be constantly switching from one language to another just trains our brains into become some kind of superhero when it comes to effective and flexible thinking. Studies show that both languages are always active at the same time, which explains why sometimes we make mistakes but also shows that we are good at parallel thinking.

3. Not now Alzheimer, not now

Mens sana. Being a bilingual is antiaging, and it has been demonstrated that degenerative disorders will get to us around five years later. And when I say us, I do not mean only people who speak more than one language, but people who use more than one language in their daily basis. Jazzakallah khair baba for yelling at me when I spoke Spanish at home.

4. Translating set phrases will always be fun

Not so funny when you have to really explain them but do you picture yourself saying ‘hide your bowl’ to someone you don’t want to see? Well, go darreg zlaftek.


5. Being able to read books/watch movies in their original versions

Think about Nicholas Sparks, especially you girls. What’s the title of his most famous book? The Notebook in English, El diario de Noa in Spain, El cuaderno de Noa in Argentina, N’oublie jamais in France, Les pages de notre amour in Canada and I could go on with an infinite list that you can actually find on imdb. I personally hate having these changes in title and body so being able to read in original version is a blessing.

“He said that if culture was a house, then language was the key to the front door, to all the rooms inside”
– Khaled Hosseini

These are only some of the perks of being a bilingual. Why don’t you share yours or try to translate some set phrases for us?
Here goes mine: in Spain we say ‘más chulo que un ocho’ which literally translates into ‘’cooler than an eight’’ and actually means very cool. Indeed, more than an eight.

Written by Miriam Hatibi

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A 21 year-old bookworm studying International Business Economics. Chatterbox, professional daydreamer, quote collector, shopaholic and stubbornly up in arms.