Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bilingual

Eggbert has been learning to talk for a while now, but over the last few weeks, the new words have been coming fast and furious. We planned all along to raise her bilingual, so Mystery only (usually) speaks to her in Mysterious, and I only (usually) speak to her in English. We do have linguistic "accidents" from time to time, because some words just sound or feel so much better in one language or the other that it's hard not to slip them into a sentence of the other language, but we are working on it, and get things right at least 95% of the time. The one place where we're not terribly consistent is in our conversations with each other in front of her. We tend not to pay attention, and to either mix languages, change languages in midstream, or each speak in our "own" language in the same conversation (i.e., Mystery asks a question in Mysterious, I answer him in English, he asks a follow-up question in Mysterious, and so on.) We were really curious to see what would happen when the Egg started to talk.

Her first word was the Mysterious equivalent to "uh-oh", and her second, as I have discussed elsewhere, was "boobie." Since that time, it has been about 50/50, although some weeks are more English, and others more Mysterious. One thing that we noticed with interest was that she seemed to only learn each word in one language. So, for example, things are cold in English, but can only be hot in Mysterious. She had never given any sign that she knew which language "belonged" to which parent until yesterday, when for the first time, she added a word in English that she already knew in Mysterious. She has been saying "kiss" in Mysterious for a couple of months now. Last night, though, at bedtime, she was stalling about going to sleep (as is typical). She sat up in bed (we cosleep), crawled over to me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, very clearly "kiss" (in English). When I smiled, she did it again. And again. And again. Thus delaying bedtime by at least ten minutes, and making her mommy very very happy.

8 comments:

Tinker said...

Oh how sweet! She sounds like such a doll!

I know there are lots of people who talk about one-parent one-language, but I've recently read more to suggest that it doesn't matter if it's totally consistent and that kids figure it out without much issue, so Eggbert undoubtedly already knows what is English and what is Mysterious (but can't verbalize it, of course), so there's no need for you and Mystery to agonize about it much.

Tinker said...

What I'm acually very curious about is what Mysterious translates to in English.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...That is just SO sweet and heartwarming! Eggbert is so advanced! I had heard that two languages at home could slow down language acquisisition, but Eggbert sounds like she is on top of it all!
I speak to my daughter in English, and DH in French (French daycare too), and although she doesn't speak yet, she can understand something in English but not the equivalent in French. Like I will say: "Where's your foot?" and she will point to it, but if we ask the same thing in French she doesn't seem to understand.
But I think those young minds are soaking up way more than we imagine. Kudos to you for the two languages - it isn't always easy.

Rose xx

Marie-Baguette said...

awwwwwww. Max understands both languages (English and French) but tends to "speak" in French. For example he said "coucou" (peekaboo) to the nanny.

Hopeful Mother said...

It is very interesting to hear your bilingual experiences. We're just getting started - at 18 mos, Car.sten is picking up lots and lots of words and Al.ex doesn't have any yet, but is working with a speech therapist to get started.

My hubbie is trying to speak exclusively German to them but it is difficult since he is the only one... and most of Car.sten's "words" are in English so far, and they get English exposure at day care and lots of reading from Mom.

But I think they will get it eventually! Interesting stuff.

-H- said...

Glad to hear the bilingual approach is working. It's a great advantage to learn more than one languange as a child.

Thalia said...

From the description I'm fairly sure I know where mysterious is, and having experienced the no-electricity village life, I completley empathise with yours and Eggbert's challenges with being there. I'm sure it's worth it in terms of her experiencing where Daddy came from, but it's hard nonetheless. Welcome back!

Rachel Inbar said...

I grew up bilingual and my kids are too. I think it is important not to mix words of different languages in the same sentence, most of the time. Then again, there are things in Israel that there are English words for, but no one really uses them - like loquat. For those, we just use the Hebrew words.