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On 'Kin and Language...

I've lived lives where I've spoken languages that I no longer speak, and some languages I spoke which no longer exist. In this life I am bilingual - I speak English and Russian fluently. I have an interest in linguistics and have studied a variety of languages, some in more depth than others, including immersive German learning while living there.

I get memories of past lives where I did not speak English. A prominent example in my mind at the moment is Frodo - we spoke Westron in the Shire, a language which no longer exists in any meaningful way, other than a few select words and phrases from Tolkien's works.

Yet, despite this, I understand the memories. They automatically translate in my mind, and the meaning in English rings through my head clearly. Despite this, I know it wasn't English I spoke. There is a faint hint of Westron sounds in the background, but my brain doesn't interpret them - it interprets and focuses on my main language in this life.

I wondered for a long while what this meant in regards to the validity of my memories. Wasn't I meant to remember the language, the exact words spoken in Westron, and be confused by them, or only after translate them into English?

I thought back to my experience learning German. At a certain point in my learning I reached a point where instead of thinking of a phrase in English and then translating it to German, the thoughts began to come to me in German. This was an interesting shift because I noticed that the two languages would be floating across my mind at the same time, to express the same thought. This of course caused some disturbances in my thinking and phrasing of things to myself, since languages cannot always be perfectly translated. Sentence structures may have to be changed, and the time taken to pronounce the things in my own head were different.

I do not have this with Russian, as it is a language I was raised with from birth. When I think in Russian, the thought stays Russian, and is comprehended through the lens of a Russian speaker, instead of being involuntarily compared to English again.

Neither of these experiences fully described how I experienced non-English memories.

However, last night I was reflecting on language, and a memory from this life came to me. I was talking with my older sister, and I distinctly remember the conversation being in Russian.
However, for some reason, my brain interpreted the memory in English, with the Russian sounds running in the background. It was exactly what I had experienced with memories in Westron.

Why was this the case? I believe it is because most of my thoughts today are in English. I do not often think in Russian, unless I have just spent time speaking it or engaging with Russian music, shows, books and whatnot. When I am thinking in Russian, the memories that I think about come to me in Russian, and are perceived in Russian without English influence.
It was my current head-voice language which affected how I experienced my memories.

This was an interesting revelation, and has eased my thoughts about not being able to remember exact Westron significantly. It is amusing to find how memories in different languages are really quite similar across different lives.

Comments

I used to speak an alien language called Cloufian. When I came to Earth, I taught myself again based on memory.
 
I used to speak an alien language called Cloufian. When I came to Earth, I taught myself again based on memory.
How much of it do you remember? I only manage to recall the general sound and flow of Westron as described in this journal entry, and a few words here and there.
 
This is exactly how my memories/feelings of my angelic/demonic languages are like (as well as any times I've spoken human languages as Lucifer). It's like you can hear the real words, muffled and distorted, while the meaning runs along in a different, understood language. I've been working on reconstructing/forming as a conlang those languages, based on that background noise.
 
This is exactly how my memories/feelings of my angelic/demonic languages are like (as well as any times I've spoken human languages as Lucifer). It's like you can hear the real words, muffled and distorted, while the meaning runs along in a different, understood language. I've been working on reconstructing/forming as a conlang those languages, based on that background noise.
I'm lucky in that Tolkien has created entire conlangs from Arda, it's just upsetting that none of them are the one I spoke haha. I did study Sindarin and Quenya then though, so at least I can study them again now. It's not quite the same as my mother-tongue though, and I didn't know those languages well. Maybe I could also try creating a conlang around the things I do remember, since linguistics are an interest of mine...

I wish some memories weren't so obscured by my mind automatically translating everything, but I guess that's the limit of the human brain. Though I can't imagine it would be at all helpful if I got all my memories in pure Westron and had no idea what was going on either lmao
 
How much of it do you remember? I only manage to recall the general sound and flow of Westron as described in this journal entry, and a few words here and there.
I can only read and write at kindergarten level. Whenever I have a dream shift, I can only make out a few words here and there.
 

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