A Question of Language


My dear OH has some endearing habits, and one of them is to regularly impart little bits of random knowledge – he calls them ‘Interesting Facts of the Day’. The latest one of these turned into a rather amusing conversation.

It went like this:

OH: “Did you know that language is handled in a particular part of the brain?”

Me: “Yeah, colloquially known as the ‘language centre'”

OH: “Broca’s .. ”

Me: “Yes, Broca’s Area”

OH: “Well, did you know that if you learn a second language it’s handled in the same area?”

Me: “Yes, go on … ”

OH: “But if you learn a second language as an adult, you grow a new bit of brain in that area, just for the new language?

Me: “Wow .. you do?”

OH: “Yes!

Me: “Wow. I’ve grown a new bit of brain, and you haven’t!!”

OH: “Yeeees. Demoralising, isn’t it?”

Me: “No! No – you should learn! You can do it! You have the brain.”

OH (Musing): “I wonder what happens to those people who learn more than one new language? What if they learn six new languages – do they grow six new bits of brain? Why don’t their heads explode?”

Me: “Hahaha! You probably handle all the new languages in the one new bit”

OH (Getting a bit sidetracked): “Hey, why is the butter still out?”

Me: “Perchè ho ancora fame”

OH (Trying again): “Why is the butter out?”

Me: “Perchè non ho finito la mia colazione!”

OH: “But why is the butter out? It’ll get all hot and miserable!1

Me: “I told you. I’m still hungry and I haven’t finished my breakfast”


OH: “Yes, but you told me with your new bit of brain, and I heard it with my old one!”

Me: “There is a solution to that … ”

1 OH uses some very picturesque language, sometimes. But in fact I forgot to put the butter away and it did indeed get hot and miserable. Positively depressed and tired of life, in fact, judging by the way it had sagged and was sitting huddled at the bottom of the dish.

7 thoughts on “A Question of Language

  1. Carol 11th July 2015 / 3:00 pm

    Really?! You grow new brain for a new language? Amazing! And yes, butter will do that, which is one reason I use pretend butter, although I have the real stuff on hand.

    • Jay 11th July 2015 / 4:35 pm

      Yes! Isn’t it amazing? I’m tickled pink!

      We used to use pretend butter, but we decided to cut out the chemicals – the preservatives, emulsifiers and colourings etc – and go back to butter. Now the ‘experts’ have caught up with us and have decided that butter is in fact better for you than margarines.

      I won’t say ‘I told you so … ‘

  2. nick 11th July 2015 / 5:36 pm

    I didn’t know you grew a new bit of brain if you learnt a second language. Then I must have a new bit of brain lurking somewhere. And yes, as OH says, what happens if you learn several new languages? Una domanda affascinante, si?

    Perhaps I should take up this game of Interesting Fact of the Day….

    • Jay 11th July 2015 / 7:43 pm

      Davvero affascinante, Nick. Come sono tutte le domande sul soggetto ‘Come funziona il cervello?’

      And yes, do! It would make interesting reading to see what you come up with.

  3. liz 12th July 2015 / 3:01 pm

    Our husbands would get on well.

    • Jay 12th July 2015 / 5:22 pm

      Wouldn’t it be great to meet up one day and see? 😀

  4. Secret Agent Woman 20th July 2015 / 2:29 pm

    This isn’t really what your talking about (although I do think the issue of new brain development is fascinating), but I keep my butter in a French butter crock. It sits upside down in cool water and can be kept like that at room temperature so it’s always easily spreadable. I love it.

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