My brain is capable of understanding a maximum of two languages: English and Other.
I took French lessons for an hour a day everyday for ten years as part of the New Brunswick public education system. That sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t really get you that far since, like most classes, most of the details are forgotten ten minutes out the door. Nonetheless, by the end of high school I could listen to two people (even two French teachers) having a conversation in the hall and understand most of it.
Then, I moved to Japan, and promptly forgot everything francais and replaced it with nihongo. By the end of one year there, I could understand and speak Japanese much better than I ever could French.
Living in Montreal has certaintly been bringing some of the French back, while the Japanese has been slipping away. The problem is, I sometimes forget which is which.
Comment sa va? Genki yo.
Bibliothèque wa doko desu ka?
Où est la ginko?
Métro de ikou.
Au revoir. Ja ne.
Those all sound perfectly natural to me. It’s all “other”.
Though I can’t speak, at least I’ve noticed that I can read French about as well as I can Japanese. While on the metro yesterday, I looked up at one of the ads and realised I knew exactly what it meant, despite being in French. I remember three or four years ago riding the densha through Nagasaki and having the same realisation in Japanese.
It was a good day.