Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dreamers in Foreign Tongues

In today's New York Times Book Review, Michael Erard writes an interesting essay exploring the world of language in dreams. He begins with an anecdote from my book, Dreaming in Chinese, about the day I ran into heaps of frozen ham legs on a Beijing sidewalk. Thinking like the Chinese think (maybe just one short step from dreaming like the Chinese dream), I was sorely tempted to pilfer one of those ham legs.
I first dreamed in a foreign language, French, when I was about 14 years old and had been living for a few months with a French family in the south of France. That is reportedly the classic experience: total immersion in a foreign language, which kind of takes over your brain.
In the last year or two, I've been randomly polling people I run into about the language of their dream lives. What I've discovered is that any 7  people are likely to give 7  different answers. Here are some, in no particular order:

"I have never dreamt in a foreign language."
"Sometimes I dream in English; sometimes in Chinese." (bilingual person)
"My dreams are always silent."
"I never dream."
"I know I dream in two languages; I speak Mandarin when my Chinese mother-in-law appears in my dreams, and I speak English the rest of the time."
"I have no idea."
"I just can't remember."

While it is nice to think that we all dream vividly and loquaciously, it doesn't seem to be the case.

(Image from


  1. When I studied French in school, I got to the point of sometimes dreaming in French, but I haven't dreamed in a language other than English for 45 years.

  2. My family lived in France when I was a little girl. We lived in a French village, and attended the French schools and church, while my dad worked at the somewhat close Air Force base. My mom said we would talk in our sleep in French, or when playing at home together, and we couldn't think of the English word for something, would switch to French, and then continue in French for the rest of the afternoon. Towards the end of our stay, when my parents were arranging for my new-born brother to be baptized, we came up to them while they were talking to the priest. After we left, he asked my parents where we had learned English.
    I wish I were that fluent now..

  3. I dream in Mandarin after I watch a Chinese drama or movie :)

  4. For added ascendancy over a time adjustment,a Microstella bend can be acclimated to replica watches acclimatize the antithesis caster on the central of the watch.This adjustment requires some ability on how to accurately accessible and abutting the caseback of a Rolex.Both methods are discussed below.A Rolex watch is a attribute of abundance to abounding people.As a result,there are abounding counterfeits getting fabricated and sold.Abounding humans are blind about the uses of the replica accoutrements afar from its accessible artful use.You can accept absolutely how abundant your replica bag is,by compassionate the accomplished characteristics of an accomplished accurate replica bag.A superior replica bag looks and feels like an accurate handbag.The replica bags,artist accoutrements and purses are gucci replica aswell affordable and economical.Despite this,acceptable replica accoutrements are not at all amiss in their appearance quotient.The aboriginal affair to buck in apperception if affairs a replica bag is its quality.There can be abounding stores,which try to advance in your duke bad superior replica accoutrements and absolve the auction on the base of the low amount of the bag.Don't you accept them!This is because accomplished superior defines rolex replica a acceptable replica bag and replica handbag.This is because; the replica handbags are aswell fabricated from added or beneath the aforementioned actual that is acclimated if authoritative an accurate handbag.So try and get your replica backpack from stores,which replica watches uk don't compromise,on the superior alone because of the low amount of such bags.

  5. This is a great web site. Good sparkling user interface and very informative blogs. I will be coming back in a bit, thanks for the great article. I have found it enormously useful.
    cat mario
    clicker heroes
    curve fever
    dragon ball z devolution
    duck life
    gun mayhem 2

  6. Flipkart is Offering Cashback Offers Flipkart deals You will get upto 75% Discount

    Flipkart is Offering Cashback Offers Flipkart Cashback Offers You will get upto 75% Discount

    Flipkart is Offering Cashback Offers Flipkart Discount Offers You will get upto 75% Discount
    Flipkart is one of the biggest world wide eCommerce Site so here you will getFlipkart big billion day offers

    Flipkart is one of the biggest world wide eCommerce Site so here you will getflipkart bank cashback offersso

    Flipkart is one of the biggest world wide eCommerce Site so here you will getFlipkart bank offersso

  7. I am looking for my memories through the stories, the narrative of people. I feel it is difficult but I will try.

  8. I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us.

  9. Thank you for this great article i learn a lot from your article keep it up.
    attitude status in hindi
    Life status in hindi
    Love Status in hindi

  10. The insects should be disposed of in order to sit in an insect-free place, free of any inconvenience, by contacting the bed bugs company in Jeddah to spray the house of flying insectsافضل شركة مكافحة حشرات
    شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالاحساء
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالاحساء
    شركة رش مبيدات بالاحساء

  11. Really nice information. provides the best technical help and guidance. Get in touch with extensively trained tech support team for all sort of queries and issues regarding your devices. You can contact round the clock according to your convenience.