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September 17, 2005


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My mother tells me that when she was three only her mother could understand her (English, and German and Portugese) as she tried to speak them all at once. She didn't really get sorted out until she was five.


Interesting! Our boys seem to be quite good at the so-called "code shift", i.e. switching between languages and addressing the other person in the appopriate language.

We've been very strict about not confusing the boys, though, and associating one person with one language only (as a result, Alan gets extremely embarrassed when his German grandfather talks in English to him, and only replies in German).

Alan did the code shift for a while and David has just recently started (he's two years old now). So, when his nanny asks him in Romanian to say "pa" to me, he turns and says "Tschuess, Mama".

I'm actually quite proud of them. :-)


But what will happen when Allison will be speaking English (of the 2+ year-old variety) to them next month? Will they understand each other? I look forward to those conversations... And I expect her to leave Germany after one week understanding a whole heck of a lot more than I do. :-)

Andy H

An American friend of mine in Portugal, was on a plane with his two year old son (whose mother was Portuguese) on his first trip to his father's homeland. At one point he turned to his dad and asked "Daddy, why are those women speaking man's language?"

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