Obies Using Languages: Mohit Dubey ‘18

Mohit Dubey is a third year double degree major, studying Classical guitar in the conservatory and Physics in the college.

What other languages do you know and how did you learn each of them?

Aside from English, I can speak mildly fluent Spanish and German, and can be friendly in Italian, Hindi and Arabic. I learned Spanish in High School (from a Scottish lady, ironically) where I studied it for three years. I wanted to take a fourth year, but I was the only one at my school who did, so they didn’t offer it. German is more complicated. My mom is from former East Germany and emigrated here after the wall fell to do biology research. Growing up as a kid she tried to speak to me in German, but as I never heard it used conversationally, I refused to learn TWO words for every object. But, somehow, a lot of the sounds stuck, and I can get by pretty easily with understanding people speak, but couldn’t formulate sentences, write or read. Now I’m studying it at Oberlin and it is quite the trip!


Which language do you feel like you can communicate best in or are more yourself? What language feels most like home or most comfortable to you?

English definitely feels like my “home tongue.” However hard I may try to learn another language, I think this will always be the case. Music is my other home tongue, so is math. German and Spanish are vacation home tongues – or “visiting my Grandma’s house” tongue, you know.


What is your favorite word or phrase in another language besides English that is untranslatable to English? What does it mean?

Tarab – Which is an Arabic word for that indescribable feeling you sometimes get when listening to music. Innigkeit is pretty beautiful too – it’s German for your “inward self.”


When you speak in other languages, do you think in the language you’re speaking or translate the words from another language in your head before speaking?

Since I am not fluent in another language, I am usually always translating. But sometimes, when I go swimming and my brain is kind of “off”, I challenge myself to only think in another language. It’s usually something like “I like swimming.”



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