My parents have come to visit us here in Curitiba, Brazil for a couple of weeks and it has been interesting to see their effect on our son’s bilingual development.
He has obviously been exposed to a lot more English than when it is just me here. But in addition, he has been exposed to different varieties of English and a richer vocabulary. My dad still has his Irish accent and my mum switches between Brummie and Irish depending on how angry she is or how many caipirinhas she’s had. They also bring with them different vocabulary that I wouldn’t normally use as well as a desire to spend as much time as possible with their grandson in their two weeks here.
One of the effects has been that Mr. T is now calling everybody ‘bad’. It started out with him calling his do doe (granddad) ‘bad do doe’ but that soon became ‘bad nana’, ‘bad daddy’ and pretty much ‘bad everybody’, and this includes his favourite person in the whole world ‘bad vovó’. He understands other adjectives like ‘good’ but so far has refused to say them.
We are trying to get him to use the adjective ‘nice’ and it is starting to have an effect, but ‘bad’ is still his second favourite word after ‘no’.
Although it is clear that he understands almost everything in either English or Portuguese, I am still convinced that he doesn’t differentiate between the two languages when he is speaking. It seems that he only has one word for any particular concept and this word might be taken from English or from Portuguese. The only words he produces from both languages are ‘bye bye’ and ‘tchau‘, and ‘more’ and ‘mais‘.
This means that in his extended phrases he is very likely to mix up the two languages, rather like a good cocktail. This was shown when we all went to Ilha do Mel over the weekend and stayed in a Pousada called Estrela do Mar. It is right on the beach and Mr. T has become obsessed with playing in water. Every time he saw the sea, or whenever we wanted him to come out of it for more that 10 seconds he just screamed ‘Agua more!’ incessantly and as loudly as he possibly could.
Just so long as he doesn’t start shouting ‘Caipirinha more’ for a while, though, I’ll be happy.
I have started a book called ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles. At nearly 700 pages it is the longest book I have read in a while, but the writing is so pleasant I think I am going to finish it quite quickly. I am over 100 pages into it at the moment and I am still not sure where it is going, but the suspense is building up nicely.
- Mixing Languages? – multilingualparenting.com
- Mixed Languages: A Trilingual Sentence – trilingualsprouts.com