Hi there, nice to meet you, I’m Livia, I live in the UK and English is not my first language. Actually, it’s Hungarian. I lived in Hungary for the first thirty-one years of my life and was also taught German, Italian and some French at school. I first started learning English at the age of 5 when I spent 10 months in the US with my family and continued learning it through the years. Of all the languages I speak and understand, English is my second best, and I regularly think and dream in English. But it’s still not my mother tongue. Here are 5 things that I’ll do that might surprise you if we meet.
I’ll pick up your accent.
Yup. And it’s not even conscious. I honestly have no idea what my actual accent is because it always morphs to that of the person I’m speaking to. I’m not doing it to be rude or to mock them, it just sort of happens. But since I moved to the UK, I found I am picking up more UK pronunciations and leaving the US behind. It’s hard because those ten months in Ohio were in my formative language learning years and some of the accent and even some of the vocab is imprinted heavily on my brain. But now it’s evolving into a Sussex-Ohio mash-up. Hey, the main thing is that we can understand each other, right? :)
I’ll mix in some Hungarian words if I’m tired.
If you don’t understand what I’m saying, it’s definitely not you, it’s me. Speaking English tires me, though less and less with more practice. After moving to the UK, speaking constantly to someone in English even for a couple of hours felt like I had cotton balls in my mouth. I couldn’t properly enunciate and words slipped my mind. I still do that, and it makes me anxious to speak in an official setting (giving talks or interviews), but I am soldiering on because it’s the only way to progress.
Not remembering English words is a thing, relapsing into Hungarian is another. I do that as well if my brain is absolutely fried. Especially filler words, the equivalent of “so”, “or”, “I mean” and the like. Oh, and for the life of me, I can’t properly count in English. If I have to figure out what I have to pay, I always count in Hungarian in my head and, with a delay, translate that into English. Saying what I think comes almost instantly without translation, but numbers are my weak spot.