When I woke up this morning, Adam told me that we need a socket. I was very confused by his nerdtalk until he told me that I was sleeptalking in Mandarin and he couldn’t understand anything (he barely speaks any Cantonese).
I am not a sound sleeper; I am known to move around, hog blankets, grind my teeth, sleeptalk, and even sleepwalk. When I was about 7 or 8, while I was in Atlantic City with my family, I woke up outside of the hotel room and started crying.
I asked him if this was the first time that i sleeptalked in Chinese. He said most of the time when I sleeptalk I mumble and this was the first time that I spoke loud and clear (which must have been a bit creepy). Unfortunately, I cannot remember what I dreamed about last night, but I am now really curious about which language I use most often in my subconscious. But in the case of dreaming, I am guessing that it would be dependent on who I converse with in my dreams.
I find this fascinating for two reasons.
For one, I remember when I was in elementary school and we used to discuss what language we think in and I used to wonder about whether we need language to think. Can we think without language?
I know when I first came across the question which language I think in the answer was Chinese. By the time I was in grade 10 or 11, the answer became fuzzy. Sometimes I stopped to wonder if i’m thinking in Chinese or English, which suddenly becomes impossible as soon as you are donig metathinking. What I do realize is that there’s a lot of switching going on during thoughts, depending what language can term the ideas the best. Recently, when the question occurred to me again, I realized that now I mostly think in English, which is inevitable given I only speak Chinese to my mom whom I see once every two weeks. Yet again, I was told that the language you count in out loud in is the language you think in, and I always count in Chinese (every time I do it, adam calls me a fob) so does that mean I sitll think in Chinese or only that my subconscious is my mothertongue? Or perhaps the theory is just flawed and counting is just a mothertongue thing?
The second reason why what happened last night was fascinating to me is the fact that my boyfriend does not speak my mothertongue. I am a devout Sapir-Whorfian and I feel as though by the sheer fact that he can’t understand me when im not conscious means that he may not be able to understand all of me. But does that matter?
I have been using the fear tactic to get him to learn Mandarin. I told him that my dad speaks no English and he is not going to be happy when they meet if they can’t communicate. But another part of me knows that learning a language is different than being immersed in the culture. But perhaps that’s an absolute defect of human relationships.
Consubstantiality. We can be one in essence and yet we still retain unique substance. Two people can be one but never be one.
maybe the beauty of love is in the perpetual, unwavering endeavor of bridging that gap.