Jose Carillo's Forum


This new section features links to interesting, instructive, or thought-provoking readings about the English language. The selections could be anywhere from light and humorous to serious and scholarly, and they range widely from the reading, writing, listening, and speaking disciplines to the teaching and learning of English.

Does multilingual dreaming apply to all languages except English?

In what language do you dream? Is it in your native language or perchance in English?

In “Dreaming in English,” an essay that came out in the February 6, 2011 issue of The New York Times Sunday Book Review, linguist Michael Erard surveys the contemporary literature about multilingual dreaming, from the recent books Dreaming in Chinese by Deborah Fallows and Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich, among others, to the 1993 research study by researcher David Foulkes and his colleagues on how bilinguals dream.

Erard, a writer and journalist who writes about language and technology, observes that for Fallows and for others who experience it, “dreamtime fluency is a metaphor for becoming an insider, someone for whom the language isn’t foreign and whose own nativeness is neither feat nor achievement; it just is, as natural as breathing.”

After reading about all of this multilingual dreaming, though, Erard asks himself: “Why isn’t anyone dreaming in English? Perhaps, I thought, people naïvely assume they dream in their native language, when in fact something else happens — perhaps it’s in recalling a dream that any language in it is identified. I myself can remember dreamtime speaking in Spanish and Mandarin, two languages I’ve studied, as well as dreamtime writing and yelling in English, my native language. But I don’t recall ever waking up and thinking, Wow, I was really fluent in English last night.”   

He then ponders the possibility that “dreaming in X” must apply to every language on the planet except English. “If such dreams embody fantasies about linguistic and cultural insiderness,” he argues, “then maybe global English cannot have an inside, because the language, already everywhere and everyone’s, is what they speak where the world is flat — indeed, it’s that flatness of English and its world that Fallows, Rich…and the rest are trying to escape.”

Read Michael Erard’s “Dreaming in English” in The New York Times Sunday Book Review now!

In “The takeaway language of slang,” an article that came out in the February 2, 2011 issue of, history professor James Sharpe says that the sheer linguistic inventiveness and indestructible quality of slang can keep some of its terms in use for centuries. He reviews a recent major work on the subject, Jonathon Green’s Green’s Dictionary of Slang (Chambers, 6,085 pages), and the 1699 work of John Simpson, The First English Dictionary of Slang (Oxford Bodleian Library, 196 pages). “Perhaps the most fascinating, if usually intractable, issue raised by reading these two dictionaries is the question of origins and dissemination,” he says. “Who first decided that we should be dog tired rather than cat, stoat, or chicken tired, or that a female hairstyle that pulls the hair sharply back should be called a Croydon facelift, or that coughing at the badger might be an appropriate euphemism for cunnilingus?”

Read James Sharpe’s “The takeaway language of slang” in now!

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