How to manage our PKM for non-native english speakers?

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to share and also hear your opinion about one topic that is bugging me for months already. I’m “building” my PKM system in a note system, following the concepts and ideas of atomic notes, evergreen notes and zettelkasten.

The major question that I’m facing now is in what language I should do it. I’m not a english native speaker (I dabble), but I see the value of facing the friction and doing my notes and writing my mind in english. I believe that it would help me out in the future to generate content.

In the other side, taking those same notes in my main language (portuguese) would be really easier and faster. I would only need to “translate” to english in the future if I need to create the content to be shared.

I’m at a crossroads right now and really wanted to hear your take on it! don’t know if some of you already faced such challenge/question!

reading your message it appears you are rather proficient in English.

If your notes are for your consumption only, I would suggest using the appropriate language for each note - if you are taking a class in Portuguese, the notes are in Portuguese. If you are reading a paper in English, the notes are in English. When you share the notes from the paper with local friends, you have a Portuguese set of notes as well for the same thing.
Just make sure that your files have aliases for the “main” language (english in my case) - so you can easily insert links.
Your brain can handle it and you might find additional connections.



I basically do what @elmsfeuer suggests. My literature notes are most often in the language of the text. If it’s a language I’m not very good at, then sometimes I take notes in English because it’s easier (it’s not my native, but that’s what I do my academic writing in). If the source text is in a dead language (which I happen to work with pretty often), then again the notes are often in English, or sometimes mixed (e.g., paraphrases in Latin and other thoughts in English). I have not found it difficult to navigate these.

Overall, I would think the most important factor is what language you want your “output” to be in. What is your output? Papers, blog posts, lectures, notes for yourself…? What language do you want them to be in, primarily?
But of course it also matters how easy it is to take notes in English, and how easy it is for you to translate. I’m terrible at translating, but think very easily in English these days. If you translate easily, then probably the note taking language does not matter that much anyway.