On Language7:25 PM
I've been mulling over our language, specifically our pull at moments to speak it, for a little while, mostly because of my mom. Originally from China, she speaks Mandarin and Cantonese in addition to fluent English. She always speaks English with my dad, my sister, and me (since we're not as fluent in Chinese as she is in English!) But when my Chinese grandparents (who speak very little English) are over, it's a different story. Is this some kind of language peer pressure? It's even evident when there are people around who my mom doesn't even know. For instance, I remember once being in Hawaii. My mom and I were at a hotel lobby, and a Chinese couple across from us started a discussion in Mandarin. Suddenly, my mom started speaking to me in Chinese.
I do think that the language the people around you speak can have an impact on the way you, yourself, speak. At the most basic, it would obviously explain why babies in Iceland grow up speaking Icelandic (since no other reason would explain someone trying to speak that impossible language--that volcano that erupted is called "Eyjafjallajokull"), and babies in England grow up speaking English.
Of course, there are isolated incidents that have nothing to do with the people around you. I know a couple of words of French--merci, oui, and excusi-moi (if I'm spelling that correctly--it's excuse me). I got used to saying the latter when I was in France, mostly in cases of ducking through crowds at crowded museums like the Louvre. That trip was a couple of years ago, and yet, going into my dad's office, I sneezed. Instead of saying excuse me, "excusi-moi" slipped out.
Whatever our pull to certain languages may be motivated by, it's an interesting topic to think about. And now I have to go eat dinner. Adios.