Monday, 29 October 2007

Translating

Here's an interesting conversation we had the other day; it was shortly after the appearance of Laniña's new obsession with pumpkins in the run up to Hallowe'en:

Mummy: Tell Daddy what we did today.
Laniña: Pumkin! Liddl punkin!
Papá: Ooo ... una calabaza, ¡qué bien!
Mummy: And what did we put in the little pumpkin?
Laniña: On telly!
Mummy: Yes, the pumpkin´s sitting on the TV. And what´s in the pumpkin?
Laniña: Ummm... punkin telly!
Papá: ¿Y qué hay dentro de la calabaza? ¿Una vela?
Laniña: Yes Mummy! Punkin candle! Light!

So, she knew the word candle well enough (because I didn´t tell it to her), it was the question she was having trouble understanding, and once I helped her figure out what it meant (by saying it in Spanish and giving the answer), she was able to answer in English. This is not what I was trying to do at all - I was just entering into the conversation. I didn´t really think she understood vela, nor was I sure she´d remember the word candle! She's an impressive wee kid.

Increasingly she is participating in conversations by translating things for the other parent:

Papá: ¡Mira - las vacas!
Laniña: Yes! Look Mummy - cows!

But she´s also happy simply to mix the two languages if she can´t remember the word in the language she´s speaking. And in some cases she simply doesn´t seem to have learnt (or is simply choosing not to use) a word in one of her languages. For example, she has never once used the word "children" and instead always uses the Spanish niños, even when speaking English. "I want go park. Want play niños." Cool, huh?
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