Wednesday, June 28, 2006


My children are still young so we haven't yet engaged in deep discussions about language. However, I look forward to the time when we can. For example, I am extremely curious as to which language they dream in. My husband and I speak German with the children but they hear us speaking English all the time. In their in-home daycare, they hear Spanish and English spoken by the daycare provider and her assistant, and engage in conversations in English with other children and adults. Our playgroups provide German input from adults and other children. So, I wonder to myself whether at night, when their eyes are closed and they are in dreamland, do they also dream in two languages? Do their minds categorize languages in their dreams according to dream? Do beings in their dreams speak different languages depending on their characteristics - and what might those characteristics be? In a One-Parent-One-Language household, will children have dreams in which each gender speaks a different language? For example, will a male cat speak Chinese and a female cat speak English, reflecting the gender-language combinations that occur at home? Or do children only dream in one or the other language when they are sleeping?

Thoughts like this come to me often and I spend far too much time contemplating them. My hypothoses lead into ways I'd test them if I had the means. Groupings of families and individuals, each defined by backgrounds and influences... are there commonalities? Are there distinct differences? Who are we anyway? What is language anyway? Particles and synapses and somehow, amazingly it all fits together and we function. Very impressive! When presented with such a backdrop, speaking with my children in a second language seems very basic and simple; not even close to the complexity of the human mind in general.

It frustrates me that I probably will never know the answers. I am impatient and would like to know, even if only for my own knowledge. I wonder if there are already studies out there that focus on these issues? Have there been dream studies done? I recall so many studies that I have read and watched on television over the years. They have all fascinated me and been a great delight to learn about. However, that was before I had my own bilingual children. Now that I have my own, I long to find those studies again! They now hold so much more than an academic interest. They now influence decisions for my whole family.

We have some studies listed on our BBFN website but I know there are many more.

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