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Blast From the Past: Taalzheimer's

By Clogsandtulips @clogsandtulips
Blast From the Past: Taalzheimer's Blast From the Past: Taalzheimer's I'm off on vacation until September 6th. But while I'm taking a break, that doesn't mean you get to too! To keep your little expat minds occupied, here are some past posts I thought you might enjoy. See you next week!
Taalzheimer's originally posted on February 16, 2010
Blast From the Past: Taalzheimer'sI've been living in the Netherlands for 14 months now and studying the language for a little over a year.
I certainly do not profess to be fluent, although I can communicate pretty easily in Dutch both in speech and in writing.
What I have found that is slightly alarming is that the more Dutch I learn, the more of my own language I forget.
The other day for example, I was telling my mom about a meeting I had gone to. I wanted to get more involved in the group and was going to try to join one of the commissies.
"One of the what?"
Now here's where the problem came: I couldn't for the life of me think of the English word for commissie. I struggled for several minutes and could hear my mom getting frustrated on the other end of the line.
So, I used what English words I could to explain what a commissie was. It was a group that got together to make decisions regarding various aspects of an organization. I gave examples of commissies I was in back in the US that I knew she knew about.
"A committee?" Ah, yes, that would be the word.
Why was it so hard to come up with that? This was not the first time something like this has happened. Nor was it the last.
Another one I remember having a hard time with when my brother was visiting last month was internship. I just couldn't come up with the English word on my own.
Sometimes my husband finds himself translating from Dutch to English for me in addition to translating from English to Dutch. It's downright embarrassing.
But even worse is when I forget an English word when I don't even know the Dutch equivalent. In this instance the excuse of the Dutch word coming to mind first because I use it more often doesn't cut it - I don't know the Dutch word either!
Dreaming in Dutch? Cool.
Choosing Dutch over English regardless of circumstance the moment I've had one too many? Funny. Endearing even.
Struggling with my mother tongue because living here has put me on Dutch overload? Frightening.
I recently spoke with a secretary at my husband's work. She's originally from Spain and has been living here for 25 years. She works in Dutch, all her relationships are in Dutch, she even speaks to her daughter in Dutch.
She rarely dreams in Spanish anymore and finds it somewhat difficult to communicate in her native language when speaking to family and friends back in Spain.
She reassured me that my English is still there. All of it. It's just been pushed to a different location in my brain since it's not needed quite as often.
But for me, I still feel as though my memory is being erased.
Perhaps this is the way the beginning stages of Alzheimer's feels. There are things you know you knew that you can no longer recall. It's scary and it's frustrating, and you can't help but wonder what will happen to you in the more advanced stages.
This correlation has me calling my condition Taalzheimer's - taal being the Dutch word for language.
Are any of you feeling the beginning stages of Taalzheimer's? Are there any readers in the more advanced stages? How does it feel and how do you cope? I look forward to hearing about your experiences.
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