Thursday, July 17, 2008

Multilingual dreaming

Milo is starting to recall his dreams in the morning; usually he would tell them to me, while cuddling in our big bed for a few minutes before getting up for breakfast, and he would tell them in Italian…like last week:

Milo: “Ho fatto un sogno stranissimo, mamma: Zeno ha preso il mio doudou e l’ha buttato nel mare. Poi papa é entrato in acqua e l’ha cercato. Ma…alla fine sono andato io a cercarlo e l’ho trovato, l’acqua non era profonda.”

(I made a really strange dream: Zeno had thrown my teddy bear in the sea, Papa went to look for it, and then finally it was me who found it, in the shallow waters).

This morning for the first time he told us of his first bilingual dream:

Milo: “Ho sognato che chiedevo a papa:
“Papa mi dai un cerotto?”
E lui mi diceva: “Wacht en betje! Ik moet geven medicament van Zeno!”

(In Italian: I dreamt that I asked papa for a bandage and he replied (switching now to Dutch): Wait a little! I am giving Zeno his medicine!)

Let’s leave aside any interpretation and let’s stick to the linguistic issues!
He totally imitated the Belgianite while relaying his line; he seemed amused and proud to have remembered his dream and when we asked him to say it one more time, he repeated it exactly the same. We cracked up at his cuteness, but also felt somewhat reassured: his multilingualism must be pretty deep anchored if his unconscious releases it so faithfully in his dreams.

I made me remember that when I moved to the USA at age 19, with a very shacky English baggage, it took me about 3-4 months to gain fluency and I felt so consciously the day I recalled my first dream in English.

I haven't had time to research this but I wonder f there is any scientific study conducted on the way languages we speak are reflected in our dreams. Any clue, readers?

1 comment:

Sarah said...

How cool that he had a bilingual dream! What language(s) do you dream in? Does your family members' language use in your dreams (when you dream about them) reflect the languages you all speak in reality?