Any translator or interpreter was at least once faced with the problem of not instantly finding the corresponding word in the language in which they translate. To a greater extent, this phenomenon can occur at any moment in the life of any person, not just to a translator or an interpreter. So, what do we do when the words are on the tip of our tongue, but simply cannot find them?
According to some specialized studies in the field of linguistics and psychology, this phenomenon has several possible scientific explanations. If we think of the way we learn the words of a language, it seems that the pronunciation and the meaning of the word are stored in the same place in our minds. Take dog for example: the pronunciation and the basic meaning of the word (furry quadrupedal mammals belonging to the canine family) should be stored in the same area of the brain.
However, this “on the tip of one’s tongue” situation contradicts the idea of common storage of the meaning and pronunciation of the word. Thus, psychologists have come to the conclusion that we first think of the meaning of the word, so that we can then obtain the appropriate pronunciation for the respective word. This mental process is usually a direct, fast and faultless one, and assumes that we store information about words in different areas of the brain. Obviously, this is because the speaking center is located in a different place from the long-term memory area of the brain. Another cause would be, for multilingual speakers (including translators and interpreters), that they need to store double amounts of information, about pronunciation and meaning. It has been noticed that for multilingual speakers, the “on the tip of one’s tongue” situation appears more often and lasts longer, because the brain has to put more effort into searching the mind grooves for meaning and pronunciation for câine (in Romanian) and then for dog (in English) or Hund (in German).
Although more mental effort is necessary, speakers of multiple languages are less likely to be afflicted with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s syndrome. Moreover, they can improve their memory and ability to solve different types of problems.
Therefore, those who speak two languages are facing more often the “on the tip of one’s tongue” situation because of their mental effort, but in the long run they are the best choice for a possible employer. If more than one fluently spoken language appears on any candidate’s CV, this will certainly place them far above the other candidates, regardless of the field of activity.