Questions people like to ask foreigners, #3

Question 3: What language do you dream in?

Here’s how this one typically goes:

Random friend, colleague, or acquaintance: “Oh hey, what language do you dream in?”
Me: Uhhhh…

Honestly, I am someone who does dream quite a bit, mostly because I insist on sleeping in and so wake up in the middle of dreams several times. But I always struggle to remember the last time anyone actually spoke in any language in a dream. I know I had one dream shortly after arriving in Bar le Duc in 2006 where I yelled in French at someone driving badly (classic). But frankly, people hardly ever speak in dreams, and since when do you remember the words they actually said?

So, I have no idea. Anyone else get this one?



8 thoughts on “Questions people like to ask foreigners, #3

  1. I do know I have dreamt in French before, but I can’t say what the majority of my dreams are in. Most of the time, I just remember having strange dreams or scary dreams… and if anything actually remains, it’s more the subject of the dream.

    I’ve heard so many times “Once you dream in a foreign language, you’re fluent”. Umm… okay…

  2. I talk in my sleep so I’m pretty sure I have the authoritative answer on this one. I think if you’re dreaming about a situation where you and everyone else would be speaking French, you speak French, and if you’re dreaming about English speaking situations it’s in English. But otherwise, it’s not as though dreams have a narrator, so there is no overarching language, and it’s perfectly possible to speak a foreign language in your dreams badly. In fact, I talked a lot in French and Italian in my sleep in the first immersion periods, where speaking the language correctly was obviously a big preoccupation for me and I think I do so less now that I’m fluent.

    • Dreams are so illogical that I feel certain I’m capable of speaking English to French people in them! But as for them speaking English back, that probably wouldn’t happen. Thanks for your input, food for thought!

  3. If there is some sort of dialogue in my dreams, it’s usually in English. I dream in French sometimes, but most of my dreams that are in French involve me being singled out as a foreigner and my American accent is way more pronounced in them. My French dreams are usually about public transportation, which is something I never really took in the US, so I guess that makes sense.

    • Interesting! In my dreams I tend to mix up people from different times in my life, so there would be no real logical language or place. Hope you have some happier French dreams soon though!

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