How Did You Choose Your Language Pair?

In deed, I had no chance… In primary school and in high school, we were just taught English. Unfortunately I was not born in a multi-cultural family. My mother and father speak only their native language- which is sad. Last year, I went to Belgium for Erasmus and I understood how unlucky I am. It is unfair! They were born in a country which is already bilingual. They learn English in school or waching TV series – actually learning English is the easiest thing – Well, before graduating from high school, they know three languages: French, Dutch and English. They know French, so if they are interested a little, they can learn Spanish or Italian easily. They know Dutch, so if they try a little bit hard, they can speak German. When I compare this situation to Turkey, learning a new language involves extra extra effort. We speak a language completely different from other European languages. We have no link to other languages. Is not it annoying? As a result, I know English and my language pair is automatically English-Turkish. I have been studying French for 3 years but I have still a long way to go to say ‘I can translate from Turkish to French”.

So, how did you choose your second language/language pair?

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5 responses to this post.

  1. I chose the languages that I felt were predestined. I fell in love with English the first time I saw my brother’s English book for the 5th form – he was to start learning English, and I juct couldn’t wait until I start in the 5th… In the neighbourhood there was a girl who was my age and when playing together, she told me she had just started English at HER school – in the 2nd form! My decision was immediate: I came to the school inspector, lied that we were to move to another part of the city and received my school papers in am envelope. (!!!) Next day, without consulting my parents, I went to that new school and presented my papers – which, luckily, were really good. This school vice-inspector invited me to come next day together with one of my parents, and after a short talk with my mother and some very short testing of my capability to imitate some English sounds, I was allowed to come and start on Monday. Since that September day 40 years ago I have learnt, read, taught, and translated from English. The same was with the Scandinavian languages& the first time I heard Danish spoken, I knew it was something for me. Later came Swedish and Norwegian, and I love “my” languages and enjoy translating from the phantastic foursome.


  2. Posted by T. N. on September 28, 2011 at 17:37

    we were just XX thoughtXX English… please change that to “taught”?

    Yes. I come from a multilingual culture. I know 5 languages. I speak all of them with native ease and can read, write, converse and understand many others too.


    I feel blessed to be born in India and happy too.



  3. Posted by TeddyB on September 28, 2011 at 23:56

    Hi Müge,

    I enjoyed your open and honest posting and felt compelled to comment. First of all, please do not think of yourself as unlucky or hard done by in terms of your education and background. Being taught a second language from primary school (in your case, and most others, English…) is still not the norm for the majority of children in the world. Growing up in a truly bi-lingual location, not to mention multi-lingual, is a very rare exception and to consider more than one language as native is a priviledge reserved to a very small percentage of people. I suggest you think of yourself as fortunate of having been able to develop your English skills to the level you have, and indeed to be able to use them for translating into your native Turkish. I wish you the very best with your French studies too, but following your final comments of hoping to be able to translate into French, let me make a professional suggestion – stick to translating into your native language (unless your circumstances are truly unique…)


    • Hey Teddy 🙂
      Thanks for your sincere comments… You know, my department is translation, so I have to learn a third language and I am supposed to make Turkish-French translations after graduation – sounds impossible to me! 🙂


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