Speaking a second or even a third language can bring obvious advantages, but occasionally the words, grammar and even accents can get mixed up. This can reveal surprising things about how our brains work.
I’m standing in line at my local bakery in Paris, apologising to an incredibly confused shopkeeper. He’s just asked how many pastries I would like, and completely inadvertently, I responded in Mandarin instead of French. I’m equally baffled: I’m a dominant English speaker, and haven’t used Mandarin properly in years. And yet, here in this most Parisian of settings, it somehow decided to reassert itself.
Multilinguals commonly juggle the languages they know with ease. […]