Does being bilingual make me a better copywriter?
I’m a freelance copywriter, so that’s a good question. Although I’m fluent in two language, I’m not even sure I qualify as strictly bilingual. When I was studying for my first degree, I did a short course in bilingualism in education, and my lecturer’s argument was that you weren’t fully bilingual unless you could dream in both languages. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt in Welsh, only in English. However, I believe there are distinct advantages to speaking another language, especially if you work with words every day as I do.
I didn’t learn Welsh in school the way languages are taught in most British schools, I learnt from the age of 5 with what was known at the time as the ‘immersion’ method, and not much later in high school at the age of 13 or 14. This method basically consisted of being thrown in at the deep end and learning the hard way. Nobody spoke a word of English to me either in the classroom or the playground. I didn’t understand what the other children were talking about or what they were saying to me, I might as well have been in a foreign country. Gradually, I picked up the language and within a relatively short time I was fluent. I was educated through the medium of Welsh until I left high school at the age of 18.
I see language as a ‘thing,’ a source of fascination. I enjoy the relation and similarities between words, the sounds and pronunciations of words and phrases, not just in relation to themselves and to each other, but to other similar languages.
There are advantages to being proficient in more than one language regardless of whether you work in writing, for bilingual or multilingual speakers will have more efficient monitoring systems because they’re used to switching between languages, and are known for outperforming others with superior spatial memory tasks. And apparently you can avoid the onset of dementia by five years if you speak more than one language. It’s also good for our brains and can even alter the brain’s structure.
I definitely feel that being bilingual is an advantage to me and helps me to see language in ‘double.’ It’s almost too hard to explain, but having more than just the one lexicon of languages in front of me gives me a head start, even though I only ever really work through the medium of English.
For me, language is this ‘thing,’ a living thing, with old bits dropping off and new parts growing in its stead. It’s a growing, living breathing thing that changes, adapts to its environment and evolves over time with new words and phrases to match the changing world we live in.
Perhaps then, choosing copywriting as a trade was definitely a good choice, or perhaps it even chose me, I was preordained to go back to my roots.
Funnily enough, one of the disadvantages of being a bilingual speaker apparently are that you are prone to more “tip-of-the-tongue” moments than those who only speak one language. And I have enough of those to suggest it might be true.
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