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January 10, 2006


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Will Baird

lol! We have soemthing going on here. I've been telling my wife that our daughter will be learnign Russlish for some time. The funny part is that it seems to be infecting our own speech.

Now, forgive the horrible transliteration...

Coosie is a cute way of telling someone to eat. Normally kids. Tonight, frex, my wife just came out when I asked if she was feeding Avrora and said, "Yes, we're coosying!"

Avrora has been trying very hard this week to say 'balloon' and 'bird' in english, but understands when to kiss someone, 'tsoom, mama!' or tries to say babushka (comes out baba, honestly).

Anyways, gotta run.


First of all, I would just like to say I really enjoy reading this blog of yours. I do so for quite a while, now.

On the other hand, I absolutely understand this kind of troubles you write about. I was brought up in Belgrade, Serbia, by a mexican mom and a yugoslav father who actually spoke also slovenian. Now, my wife (a mexican, by the way) and I are living in Germany, and having a child is something we have been thinking about. It is definitely going to be a great adventure mixing german, serbian and spanish in a mostly english-spoken world. Poor kid!

Best regards,

Andy H

our new one will probably be bilingual until she goes to school at which point she will be expected to learn Romanian too. It'd be nice to teach her Romanian in advance, but since we don't use it at home (and there are very few Romanian L1 speakers around the town to work with) it'll be unlikely we'll really get started. My stepdaughter has had her Romanian learning severely slowed by my arrival on the secen and her subsequent need to learn English. Still she's doing OK in both of her non-native languages.

Oskar L.

Being brought up in a bi- or trilingual environment is (or at least has not been) the norm in the west for the past 50 (or maybe even 100) odd years or so. Homogenous nation states have been the norm.

However, if you look back in history multilingualism has been the norm in a lot of cases. Throughout eastern Europe educated people would probably have their national language (ex Czech) and the dominating language of the country (eg German).

Maybe we're entering an era when multilingualism will be the norm again (at least if we include English).


Does it make a difference that you're in Romania, rather than Germany or the United States? I'm trying to phrase this question correctly, so bear with me.

It is very common for people born to Spanish-speaking families to use English grammar in a Spanish sentence, at least as much as that's possible. Losing the subjunctive, using definite articles incorrectly, always mashing flexible Spanish into the more-rigid English word order, etcetera. The reverse, however, would be very strange among the U.S. born, even if their English is awful. "Am speaker Spanish, yes, you have reason." You could hear this from someone raised in Mexico, but it's practically unimaginable from anyone raised in the United States. The same, I can attest, occurs in English-speaking kids raised in Mexico.

In fact, it is very common in both cases for the child --- if he or she reaches 18 --- to have the accent of one country in both languages.

On the other hand, your kids don't have perfect English and sloppy Romanian, or vice versa, or whatever combination; their switches are fuzzy regardless of what two languages are involved or their order.

The question, therefore is which of the three following hypotheses is correct:

(1) None. I'm suffering from sample bias, and my observations are bullshit. This is very plausible. Would I notice a perfectly bilingual person? Maybe not.

(2) It's a function of age. Your kids will eventually fixate on one dominant language.

(3) It's a function of Romania. They know that Romanian isn't the "prestige" language, somehow, but can't decide between English and German. If you lived in Germany or the U.S., one or the other would rapidly become dominant.

Thoughts? Sorry for the rambling nature of the query; I'm very tired at the moment.



Jussi Jalonen

I'm trying to think of what kind of a direction your children's jargon could have taken if you had stayed in Belgrade. Slavic verbs in perfective aspects with inseparable German prefixes?

Hm. "Ja bist z dem pocigem zurückgeprijechaem" = "I've returned by train", perfect Polgernish. Notice the elegant cross-breeding of dative and instrumental cases.


Jussi Jalonen

... sorry, a typo; that should be "ja bin", of course, or alternatively, "ich jestem".

The use of the preposition "z" was intentional, however.


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