Holy Roman Emperor Charles V reportedly said, “Je parle espagnol à Dieu, italien aux femmes, français aux hommes et allemand à mon cheval” (I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men & German to my horse). Another version quotes him as saying: “Je parle latin à Dieu, italien aux musiciens, espagnol aux soldats, allemand aux laquais, français aux dames et anglais à mon cheval” (I speak Latin to God, Italian to musicians, Spanish to soldiers, German to lackeys, French to ladies & English to my horse). I guess it depended on whether he was riding a German horse or an English horse~!
I have studied seven languages over the course of half a century; it was only when I lived in Brussels and Paris in 1991-1992 that I began to dream regularly in French; many years later, I revived my French in 2003 as a political statement in response to the rampant francophobia of Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration as a reaction to France’s opposition to the Iraq war. In 2015, I began studying Korean and then took Norwegian in 2016 and 2017; in 2018, I began reviving my long dormant German. It was over the course of 2017-2019 that I began to dream in various languages other than English, increasing in frequency over the course of 2019, as this record of speaking and sometimes singing in my dreams show…
I woke up from a dream in which I said “austro rapace” (rapacious winds) — a line from “Ombra mai fù,” the great aria from Georg Friedrich Händel’s opera “Serse.”
I woke up from a dream in which I sang “Ombra mai fù” (senza recitativo) into a small but appreciative audience; I’ve sung this aria from Georg Friedrich Händel’s opera “Serse” several times in my dreams.
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I was talking with Heidi (my German teacher from a few years ago), saying of the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, “Er ist ein Gott, ein Gott~!” (He’s a god).
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I said “Occupado~!” to someone trying to open the door to the stall in the restroom I was sitting in, which prompted her to cease and desist and wait politely for me to finish; it was remarkable because I don’t speak Spanish and have only had a few lessons in the language…
I just woke up from a dream in which I had an extended conversation in French; among many other things, I said, “Je m’appelle PH et je suis étudiant en sciences politique à l’Université d’Illinois…”
I woke up from a dream in which I dreamt that I was celebrating the festival of 박곡 with some Koreans. I rarely dream words in Korean & I’d never heard the word before so I looked it up when I woke up & it turns out that 박곡마을 is a village in Cheongdo 청도 County in North Gyeongsang 경상북도 province, which also contains Daegu & Pohang, which I visited on my trip to Korea six years ago; in fact, I landed in Korea six years ago today after a long flight from DFW (6.17.15)
I woke up from a dream in which I was writing an essay in German about Ludwig van Beethoven; I can only remember writing, “Beethoven’s Musik habe ich als Kind gespielt” & “Friedrich Schiller’s Gedicht inspiriert mich…”
I just woke up from a dream in which I sang “Ombra mai fù” — from beginning to end in italiano ma senza recitativo — from Händel’s opera “Serse” for Nancy Pelosi of all people~!
I woke up from a dream in which I was trying to speak Swedish but instead of ‘och,’ I kept on saying ‘und’ (the German indefinite article).
I woke up from a dream in which I attended a recital in which a gay African American pianist played one of the “Waldszenen” (Forest Scenes) of Robert Schumann; but there were two odd things about the dream. First, I pictured the title of the series misspelled ‘Waldscenen’ as in my cheap Dover edition; secondly, I also composed the music the pianist played in my sleep; what he actually played was not what Schumann composed, but what I composed~!
I awoke from a dream this morning in which I was with my friend Paul Wirhun (a.k.a., ‘Rosie,’ a.k.a., ‘the Eggman’) who was speaking to a group of friends telling us all of his plans to stage a mock funeral for himself; in announcing the event, he quoted Louis XV’s declaration, “Aprè moi, le déluge~!” Just before going to sleep last night, I looked at a selfie I took with Hyacinthe Rigaud’s portrait of the five-year-old king of France while visiting the Met three months ago (2.8.21)
I woke up from a dream in which I said, “Wie heißt das Theater?” (What is that theater called?).
I awoke from a dream in which I uttered the word ‘gleðileg’ (‘gleðileg jól’ is ‘Merry Christmas in Icelandic), the first time I’ve ever spoken a word in Icelandic; last night, I was chatting with Angus & he saw the Norwegian flag I had on the bookshelf behind me & thought it was the flag of Iceland…
I awoke from a dream in which I uttered the word ‘eventyr’ (‘adventure’ in Norwegian) and may also have said ‘Abendteuer’ (in German); the day before, I posted a cute illustration of Swedish Easter witches with the word ‘eventyr’ in it.
I woke up from a dream in which I sang “V’adoro, pupille, saette d’amore, le vostre faville son grate nel sen” from Georg Friederich Händel’s opera “Giulio Cesare” while accompanying myself on the piano…
I jwoke up from a dream in which I was at a cheese stand somewhere & asked for “Ein Stück Käse, bitte”; the woman responded (in German) by asking, “Voll?” I responded, “Ziemlich voll oder hart” even though I wasn’t sure what she meant by ‘voll’ (literally, ‘full’).
I awoke from a dream this morning in which I said, “Dies ist Elizabeth; guck mal an” as part of a longer conversation in German…
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I uttered just one word in German: ‘Aufführung’ (‘presentation’ or ‘performance’); then I saw the word ‘Südwest’ (‘southwest’) painted on a colorful wooden box that looked Norwegian or Swedish; I’m not quite sure what they had to do with anything, but I was struck by the fact that I dreamt German words yet again; at one point in the dream, I was in Frau Pleister’s German class at Bay View High School; and at another point, I was anxiously facing final exams in French, German and math class…
I took a short nap in the late afternoon and awoke from a short dream in which I said ‘Familienplanung’ (‘family planning’ in German), which is a great idea even if not something I need to avail myself of…
I awoke from a dream in which I said ‘수요일,’ which means ‘Wednesday’ in Korean, though I may have been thinking it meant ‘Sunday’ in my dream; in any case, it was remarkable given that I’ve only on a few occasions spoken any words of Korean in my dreams.
I woke up from a dream in which I dreamt a long conversation in French; unfortunately, I woke up and then fell asleep again, so I can only remember part of it. In the dream, I was sitting down at a table with a young black man (who may have been gay), who said,
“Je parle français.”
I asked him, “Où as-tu appris le français?”
He responded, “En Guadeloupe.”
I then said, “Je veux visiter la Guadeloupe un jour.”
The conversation continued a bit but that’s as much as I could recall upon waking for the final time…
I woke up from a dream in which I said ‘Wiener Schnitzel’ and then later, ‘un atribución’ (it’s actually ‘una atribución’) — the first dream in which I actually spoke in both German and Spanish — even if only two words in each language.
I awoke from a dream in which I was singing “Du holde Kunst,” the opening words of Franz Schubert’s “An die Musik,” while accompanying myself on the piano; it’s not quite clear how far I got in the words of the Lied and I was struggling a bit to remember the lyrics as well as the piano accompaniment, but it was at least three solid words of German in any case…
I just woke up from a dream in which I said ‘Elefant,’ ‘scheißen,’ ‘sechzig’ and ‘Gemeindezentrum’ in the course of a long conversation with German friends and a German community center functionary; the long conversation was a mix of German & English & there actually was an elephant in the dream and the elephant actually did poop in the room~!
I woke up from a long dream at the end of which someone said to someone else, “Du beginnst auf Deutsch, weißt du? und dann auf Englisch, oder…?” I was in the audience in a hall as someone was giving a talk without realizing that she was speaking in her native German to a mixed English- & German-speaking audience until someone said that. There was a lot more but that’s all I remembered…
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I said ‘die Gäns,’ though actually, ‘goose’ in German is ‘die Gans,’ while ‘geese’ is ‘die Gänse.’
I woke up from a dream in which I said 한국말 공부해요 (I’m studying Korean); I also said ‘Fischerweise’ (fisherman’s way), referring to the Schubert Lied; it was my first dream that included words in both Korean and German together…
I woke up from a dream in which I said the words ‘pièce théâtrale’ (in French).
I awoke from a dream in which I said just one word: ‘Schlagobers’ — which is ironic, since I actually hate whipped cream.
I awoke from a dream in which I said just one word: ‘dadurch.’
I awoke from a dream in which I or someone said, “Bittere Thränen weinte er in der Nacht” (He wept bitter tears in the night).
I woke up from a dream in which I counted to four in Norwegian and kept on repeating, “en, to, tre, fire” over and over again…
I woke up from a dream in which I was singing the Italian tenor’s aria (“Di rigori armato”) in Italian from the opera “DerRosenkavalier” of Richard Strauß…
I just awoke from a dream in which I uttered the immortal words of Michel Foucault, ‘surveiller et punir’ (in French).
I woke up in a dream in which I said, ” Ich kann Hochdeutsch und Französisch aber nicht Baierisch.”
In another dream scene, I was sitting with a Romanian woman (possibly transgendered); when I said ‘foarte bine’ (very well), she told me the B should be pronounced like a V; it was the first time I’d ever spoken in Romanian in a dream.
I woke up from a dream in which I said ‘mindestens’ (‘at least’ in German) as well as at least two words in French which I couldn’t remember upon waking…
I just woke up from a dream in which I had an extended conversation in French, at the very end of which I said, “Nous sommes une revue pour la communauté LGBT asiatique américaine…” I was explaining to a man I believed was French sitting in a Chinese restaurant that our little business next door was not a restaurant but publication.
I woke up from a dream in which someone said, “Sprach schnell,” though it’s puzzling because the imperative form of the verb would be ‘sprich’ and the past tense would be ‘sprachte.’ However, ‘sprach schnell’ would be correct if preceded by a subject (ich, er, sie, es).
I had by far my longest dream in German; I spoke for quite some time, engaging a German woman in conversation and then sitting down at a picnic table of some sort outdoors, chatting with three or four people; a young Asian asked me in German if I was interested in visiting countries other than Germany, apparently assuming that this was my first trip to Germany or Europe. I responded at length, saying in part, “Ich habe in Europa drei Jahren lang gewohnt: zwei Jahre in London, fünf Monate in Brüssel, sechs Monate in Paris, zwei Monate in Berlin und sechs Wochen in Regensburg.” And that was just the tail end of a long conversation in German. I was delighted to realize how long I spoke in German in the dream upon waking. I didn’t actually read German just before going to bed; instead, I read several pages from Edward Crankshaw’s “The Fall of the House of Habsburg.” But I’d spent some time in the afternoon playing and singing through “Die Fledermaus” as well as reading some of the spoken dialogue both from the Strauß opera and some of the spoken dialogue from the Wolfsschluchtsszene from “Der Freischütz” of Carl Maria von Weber, the most German of all German operas…
I woke up from a dream in which I said “sposa mia” (my spouse) in Italian.
I woke up from a dream in which I said “Herzlichkeit” (sincerity, warmth), two other words, and then “Brunnen” (fountain).
I just woke up from a dream in which I said, “J’ai commencés à rêver en français” & “J’ai étudié six langues…”
I just woke up from a dream in which I said the words Selbstverständnis & Bewußtsein and later in the dream explained to a friend that they mean ‘self-understanding’ & ‘consciousness’ in German…
I awoke from a dream in which I had an extended conversation in German. I was in the house of a complete stranger in some city in the Midwest & a woman who lived there asked if I spoke German. I responded, “Ich kann Deutsch. Aber im Moment kann ich nicht das gute Wort errinern.” I suddenly realized I was stark naked and asked her, “Wo sind meine Kleider? Kennen Sie? Wissen Sie? Ich muß anklagen…” Of course, ‘wissen’ is the right word, not ‘kennen,’ but interesting that I corrected myself. But ‘anklagen’ actually means ‘to accuse, charge, indict, prosecute or condemn,’ not to dress (which is ‘sich ankleiden’); still, despite two mistakes (one self-corrected), I did actually speak real German in my dream, which is something. I was going to read a Grimms Märchen before going to bed but I felt too tired, so maybe this dream was a reminder to get back into my reading of the Grimmsmärchen in the original German…
I took a nap in the afternoon and woke up from a dream in which I had a long conversation in German; someone in the dream whom I didn’t recognize from daily life asked me, “Was machst du täglich?” I responded, “Ich arbeite für Queens Pride House, eine LGBT organisation in Jackson Heights…” There was more to the conversation that I forget, but it was wonderful once again to be dreaming in German & even nicer that I didn’t make any major grammatical errors in my sleep~!
I woke up from a dream in which I said, “Es gibt ein Dokumentar über Michael; eh, voilà~!” followed by several sentences in German; it was by far the most German I’d spoken in any dream to date…
I awoke from a dream in which I said ‘Eugene V. Debs,’ ‘Gudrun und Gutrune’ and ‘vereinbar’ (‘compatible’ in German).
I awoke from a dream in which I spoke the words ‘Schwiegervater’ and ‘Schwiegermutter’ — ironic, since I have neither a father-in-law nor a mother-in-law; perhaps it was prompted by a chat over Facebook with a friend in Berlin that was partly in German…
I just woke up from a dream in which I said, “Ich interesse mich für die Grimmsmärchen. Ich lese die Grimmsmärchen auf Deutsch. Die beste der Grimmsmärchen sind wunderschön, nicht war…?” It was my first dream in which I spoke 3 whole sentences in perfect German~!
I woke up from dreams in which I said ‘der Unterschied,’ ‘die Untersuchung’ and ‘wunderlicher Alter’; the last of these is a line from “Der Leiermann” (‘The Organ Grinder’ or ‘The Hurdy-Gurdy Man’) from “Die Winterreise” — Franz Schubert’s most famous song cycle — which includes settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller. The curious thing is that I’d sung two other songs from “Winterreise” the previous day but had skipped “Der Leiermann.” The words ‘wunderlicher Alter’ literally mean ‘curious old man,’ but in the context of the poem and the song, they are freighted with significance.
I awoke from a dream in which I sang (the first verse of) La Marseillaise (en français) & then later spoke the word ‘zusammengebrochen’ (auf Deutsch).
I woke up from a dream in which I sang the Italian tenor’s aria from the opera “Der Rosenkavalier” of Richard Strauß; I remembered this much:
“Di rigori armato il seno contro amor di ribellai, ma fui vinto in un baleno in mirar due vaghi rai. Ahi, che resiste fuoco astral poco cor di gelo…” but couldn’t remember the very last few words, “di fuoco astral.”
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I said, “‘gallina’ means ‘hen’ in Italian…”
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I was “au Lycée Louis le Grand” in Paris and said so (in French).
I awoke from a dream this morning in which I was singing, “Holde Träume, kehret wieder,” the closing line from “Nacht und Träume,” my favorite song of Franz Schubert; that was followed by Jerry Seinfeld (of all people) singing “Des muntern Fischleins Bade im klaren Bächlein zu” from “Die Forelle,” one of Schubert’s most popular songs and one whose melody he used as the theme for his ‘Trout Quintet.’ I may have been dreaming of singing “Nacht und Träume” because I didn’t get the chance to sing it yesterday, as I spent the afternoon walking 3.8 miles around the borough; and I channel-flipped through just a few seconds of “Seinfeld” on TV last night before going to bed. There is of course some irony in singing “Holde Träume, kehret wieder” in a dream~!
I just woke up from a dream in which I said “Min farfar var norsk och min farmor ochså; han komerste fra Haugesund” in Norwegian & “Schwarze Münster” in German. I said the two words in German in a part of the dream where I was part of some sort of chorus or choir. After we sang, I was chatting with a librarian in a library-like section of the building in which there was a whole series of books in Norwegian; that’s when I started to speak with her in Norwegian; that sentence was one I used quite often in Norway and more often than any other.
I just woke up from a dream in which I sang two words from Schubert’s song “Der Leiermann” (“Wunderlicher Alter” = ‘curious old man’), which I’m currently working on.
I woke up from a dream in which I spoke or sung in four different languages. Ian’t remember what I said in French (I think I said, “J’aime le français aussi”), but I remember saying in German, “Die deutsche Sprache ist die Sprache von Musik. Die deutsche Sprache ist die Sprache von Bach und Händel, Schubert, Schumann, Mahler und Strauß.” I quoted two lines from the Norwegian/Swedish song, “Hvem kan seile foruten vind, hvem kan ro uten årer” (Norwegian); the (orignal) Swedish version (pronounced not too differently) is “Vem kan segla förutan vind? Vem kan ro uten årer.” And if I said one word in Italian (‘nonostante’ means ‘nevertheless’), that would make it a quadrilingual dream~!
I woke up from a dream in which someone said (and then I repeated), “Sono bello tutti,” though grammatically, it should be, “Sono tutti belli” (they are all beautiful); maybe it was the influence of a commercial advertising a liposuction service called “Sono Bello.”
I woke up from a dream in which I used the German word ‘braten’ (which means ‘to fry’ or to ‘roast’ and which I visualized in my dream capitalized as ‘Braten’) in the middle of a sentence in English.
I woke up from a dream in which I said something like “Da ist nichts dagegen” (there’s nothing against that) in German.
I woke up from a dream in which I said “Jag hadde studerarde svenska,” though “I have studied Swedish” is actually “Jag har studerat svenska.”
I awoke from a dream this morning in which I was canvassing for Bernie Sanders in Iowa and approached a house (it looked like a white farmhouse); when a woman opened the door, I sang the entirety of the Italian tenor’s aria from “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss (Di rigori armato il seno) in the original Italian.
I woke up from a dream this morning, the first dream in which I sang in more than one language in the same dream. I sang “Ombra mai fu” from Handel’s “Serse” in Italian and then “Bist du bei mir” (attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach) in German.
I woke up from a dream in which I spoke the name of the German Lutheran hymn, “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How Brightly Shines the Morning Star), apropos of nothing.
I woke up from a dream in which I was singing “Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne” (The rose, the lily, the dove, the sun) from Robert Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” song cycle; I was also playing the accompaniment on a small keyboard, but I could only remember “Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube…” Op. 48, No. 3 is in fact one of my favorite Schumann songs & I sing & play it quite often.
I woke up from a dream in which I said ‘im Ruhrgebiet’ (in the Ruhr region) to someone who was a classmate in high school; Gwen Stellberg was in the same English and math classes as me and also in both the symphony orchestra and the chamber orchestra; the rest of the conversation was in English and we were considering which cities in Germany we could visit together (we were apparently already in Germany); we decided that Freiburg and Baden Baden were the most best bets.
I woke up from a dream in which I said ‘blessés,’ which means ‘wounded’ (plural) in French.
I woke up from a dream in which I said ‘sex personer,’ which means ‘six persons’ in both Swedish and Norwegian (spelled ‘seks’ in Norwegian); the next day, I told a friend about the dream and she said she thought it sounded like a pun on ‘sex persona.’
I woke up from a dream in which I had an extended conversation in French but I only remember a small part of it. In the dream, someone referred to ‘le Wisconsin français,’ a small part of the state perhaps in the northeast corner of Wisconsin; he then referred to the rest of the state as ‘le Wisconsin britannique.’ I responded, “J’ai habité Angleterre et le Wisconsin n’est pas très britannique…”
I woke up from a dream in which I said, “‘Mild und leise,’ the Liebestod from ‘Tristan und Isolde’…”
I was on a bus in San Francisco and suddenly realized it was an express bus. I got off in Alameda and found myself on a farm after following some people off the bus into a field. I then asked a woman, “¿Dónde esta la ‘el autobús?” but she just shook her head. I then asked a white woman in English and she pointed out the bus stop. Upon waking, I checked the gender of the word and discovered that it’s ‘el autobús,” so I made a grammatical error in a dream in a language which I’ve never (seriously) studied.
I woke up from a dream this morning in which I sang “Vivi, tiranno” from Handel’s “Rodelinda” in the original #Italian (the complete ‘A’ section but no ‘B’ or da capo ‘A’). I was singing to a group of about 15-20 people in a room in either an office building or at a university.
I just woke up from a dream in which I used the word ‘Grundgesetz’ (‘basic law’ in German) in a sentence otherwise entirely in English…