My mind make up meanings when words I have never looked up in a dictionary appears or is spoken by someone, the meanings were made up based on the context of the story that I encountered the word and the related words that were used. A lot of misunderstandings in my life is the result of this particular defense mechanism I acquired as I was learning the language. As this mechanism was developed during the crucial years when my critical mind was forming, it became an invariable force that I have to consciously watch out for and override each time it happens. As such, when my guard is down, such subliminal mistakes slip by without me knowing. This is why, I am finding myself constantly looking up the dictionary for simple words after 12 years of living in an English environment. I am never sure, whether or not the meaning I held in my mind is made up or something that I’ve actually looked up.
Surprisingly, I don’t do this with French because, unlike English, I can proudly admit that I suck at French and say: “Comprends pas.” Whereas I am too proud of my English accomplishment to openly admit anything to the sort. While I never have to look up anything in Traditional Mandarin because I understand the meaning even if a word is new. That is the advantage of the mother tongue. I can only guess it’s the same for native English speakers. You knew what a new word means even if it’s the first time you’ve heard it.
Yet the advantage of a mother tongue doesn’t mean that I chose it as the language for my internal thoughts. Strategy, manipulation, inflection, persuasion and numerous other necessities facilitated by language are learned facts that are very particular to each language and thus are not portable across language and culture. That is the reason why I chose to enforce English to be my primary.
While thoughts are happening at a faster rate than my conscious mind can interpret (as is evident with hallucinogens that unleashes the restrainer), it is the effort of actually evoking them in a language that commits a particular thought to your being. While writing something down takes even more effort and creates an even greater commitment to the thought process. That is, I believe, why I originally set out to start writing. Even though the reason might be hidden from me, I have now righted the ship back to the same direction. Part of my new found confidence and part of the great mind that I’ve been interacting with.