A Bilingual Child: A third language?

Language Diversity

Language Diversity – Tobias Mik (Creative Commons)

I started this blog over a year ago with two main objectives: the first was to keep my family back home involved and up to date with what was going on with their only grandson/nephew.  I think I have been pretty successful in this regard, especially as my mum is by far and away the highest commenter on the blogs I post.

The second objective was to record the language developments of my son as he, hopefully,  picked up Portuguese and English.  On this second point I haven’t been quite so effective because the blog has evolved over time but also because, until recently, there hasn’t really been all that much language to blog about.  I know that this doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any developments, it’s just that most of the developments have been going on inside Mr. T’s head.

Over the last few weeks this has started to change and so now I am hopefully going to have more material to write about as Mr. T goes on his bilingual journey.

Except, at the moment, it is more of a trilingual journey.  Unfortunately, this isn’t about him learning three languages in the sense that some other kids do, like The European Mama.  This is in the sense of learning Portuguese and English and creating his own third language.

Sometimes this language is a mixture of the two, for example his word por is a mixture of the English word ‘door’ and the Portuguese word porta‘. So that every time we go past the market around the corner he has to give us a report on whether it has por abri‘ or not: ‘doors open’.

Other times he has just made up the word himself, like in the old days when he used to say abudah‘ for ‘car’.

And some words, I think, are just mispronunciations of either English or Portuguese that have stuck.  One of the most obvious of these is the word dah‘ for ‘yes’.  I think this comes from the word ‘ta‘ in Portuguese, which is an abbreviation of the verb ‘esta‘.  This is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be’ in English and would be used for the third person singular, for example ‘He/She/It is’.  In Portuguese, though, if you ask somebody a question like ‘Ele esta aqui?’ (‘Is he here?’)  a common affirmative answer is simple to repeat the verb ‘esta‘ or informally ‘ta‘.

But, being two years old, my little bilingual child has got into the habit of saying ‘da‘ instead of ‘ta‘, so this is either another example of him creating his own word or he is actually speaking Russian.


15 thoughts on “A Bilingual Child: A third language?

  1. The time when he will be able to speak the languages perfect will come! I haven seen it in a lot of children. Carry on, you are doing a great job! Sorry for have being so disconnected from the community. I’m trying to pick up!

    • I’m pretty sure the same thing happens with kids who only learn one language. it is just that I am paying a lot of attention to his language so maybe I pick it up a bit more.

      I have had the same problem over the last couple of months of not being so active online. Life happens, so please don’t worry.

  2. I was surprised at how much of his own language he developed including the sign language that he uses, is that common in bilingual children

    • I haven’t really read anything about bilingual kids dveloping their own language to any greater or lesser extent than other kids. And the sign language he uses is a compelte mystery to us.


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