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 http://www.quotesandsayings.com/quotes/dream/)