Watch Your Language

BV students speak multiple languages, share multilingual experiences

Watch+Your+Language

Courtney Carpenter, Co-Editor

Fluent in Arabic and English, sophomore Sarah Baghdadi first learned Arabic from her parents who have strong cultural ties.

“The language is mainly from the Middle East, but my parents are specifically from Syria,” she said.

Baghdadi said she first learned the language to be able to read the Muslim book, the Quran, which is completely in Arabic, but said knowing the language will be useful for her later in life as well.

“If I ever go back to the Middle East, I’ll be able to communicate really well there,” Baghdadi said.

Baghdadi said she enjoys learning about her cultural background and will always be proud to speak Arabic.

“While Arabic is [similar] to English in some aspects, the differences in the language allow me to communicate with my country in a way that can’t be achieved with any other language,” she said

Junior Mariam Habib speaks four languages fluently that she learned from her parents — English, Urdu and Punjabi, as well as the colloquial language Fahki. Since the languages besides English all originate in Pakistan, Habib said they are all similar.

“Once I learned one, the rest were really easy,” she said.

Habib speaks the four languages with her friends and family who know them as well.

“I speak English and all the other languages combined at home and at parties,” Habib said. “I just go back and forth — whatever is easiest to say.”

Although she is already proficient in many languages, Habib said she wants to learn more.

“I am interested in Spanish and Koshur,” Habib said. “If possible, then Arabic. I can read Arabic, but I can’t understand it.”

Despite challenges in remembering different grammatical rules and tenses, Habib said she enjoys knowing multiple languages.

“I like communicating to different kinds of people in different ways,” Habib said. “It’s just cool to know a lot of languages. I think [it will help with] job opportunities and meeting new people because we have more similarities.”

 

Foreign exchange student senior Anel Samekova is from Kazakhstan; fluently speaks Kazakh, Russian, Turkish and English; and is currently learning French, Japanese and Urdu.

“In Kazakhstan, I speak two main languages: Kazakh and Russian,” Samekova said.

Samekova said she mostly speaks English in America but sometimes will forget and speak in the language that is easiest for the situation.

“Sometimes, you can’t express your feelings in Russian or any other language,” Samekova said. “Some stuff is better to understand or to explain in English. I can’t tell if it would be multiple words in English or only one word in a different language.”

Samekova said it’s extremely easy to mix up languages with ones that sound similar to each other.

“I’m [learning] French right now, and I have a big mistake,” she said. “Always when I need to say ‘and’, which is ‘et,’ I speak in Turkish and say ‘vet.’ My teacher is always like, ‘What is “vet”?’ It is funny to me.”

 

Born to Russian parents and raised in Israel, freshman Amit Israeli said he has two first languages.

“[I learned] Hebrew and Russian at the same time in Israel, at home,” Israeli said.

When he moved to America in 2009, Israeli said the only thing he knew how to say in English was, “May I please have some more?”

“It took me a year to learn English, probably less,” he said.

Now fluent in three languages, Israeli said being trilingual can make it hard to have conversations.

“[It’s difficult] not mixing multiple languages in the same sentence,” he said. “I might switch from Russian to Hebrew without even realizing it. In school, not [talking] in other languages on accident is kind of hard.”

Despite difficulties, Israeli said he thinks he has benefited from knowing multiple languages.

“[The best part is] you can speak about people without them knowing that you’re speaking about them,” Israeli said. “I guess it’ll help with jobs and make me look impressive, but mostly [I enjoy] talking about people without them knowing.”