Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adventures in miscommunication

Sometimes, when you're learning another language, you'll say silly things unintentionally, such as calling the Pope (el Papa) a potato (la papa) in Spanish, for example. Or ordering toad (sapo) instead of soup (sopa). It's the same with kids. Our son, who is 4-1/2, has English as his first language, even though he's half Tico. We speak mostly English at home, as esposo and I had read that kids who grow up in a bilingual household should hear mostly one or the other at home, otherwise they get confused. I don't know how much of that is true, though. He's never seemed to have a problem figuring out which language was which. Often, in fact, he'll just make something up in one language or the other if he doesn't know the word for it, something my Spanish prof. in college was always trying to get us to do, though I could never really wrap my head around it.

Well, anyway. He gets to watch a little bit of t.v. at night, and about the only thing he likes to watch is Discovery Kids (all in Spanish here) or Baby TV (also in Spanish), thank goodness. I think we're still a year or two away from Cartoon Network. It has never bothered him to watch t.v. in Spanish, though it drives me right up a wall, unless it was originally produced in Spanish. Overdubbed movies and t.v. shows I just can't deal with. One of the shows he still likes is Barney (hey, don't laugh! may the innocence of childhood last a while, ya know?). There's a song on Barney about cleaning up that goes something like (in English), "Clean up, clean up, everybody clean your room." He sings it when I ask him to pick up his toys or clothes, but in Spanish, of course: "Limpia, limpia..." The next part is supposed to go "todos a recojer," but son has obviously misheard said line, and instead sings, "todos a cojer." Instead of singing, "everybody clean your room," what my son is actually singing is, "everybody start fucking." It was pretty hilarious the first time we heard it; hell, it's still funny! Not that he knows what he's actually saying, but I did ask him to promise not to sing the song around his abuela.

Other than those little things, though, his Spanish is excellent. He knows the words to "La Camisa Negra" pretty well, and insists on singing it when it comes on in the car. I'm a little jealous. I'm betting that his Spanish will be better than mine in a couple of years.

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