Years ago, when I would stand in the queue in Byres road Safeway waiting to buy my dinner and Marcel would ask in French at the top of his lungs why the man in front of us in the queue was so ugly, I would smile in relief at the thought that no one had caught what he'd said.
Yesterday I was reminded of the phenomenon.
I took Anna into nursery and told her to sit on the rug with her group. As I turned to hang up her coat, I heard a wee voice pipe up 'Charlie! (one of her 3 year old friends) I've not got my tights on today because it is so hot. Would you like me to show you my stor tissekone?' Arg! I turned, hopped over the kids, picked her up and whispered that just because the weather was nice, Charlie didn't particularly want to see her 'large vagina'! She looked surprised and pointed out that it was a very lovely one! Because of her use of the Danish in the sentence, neither Charlie nor Anna's teacher had caught what was going on! Once again I was saved by the bilingual dimension.
I take my hat off to all the parents of monolinguals - life must be quite a minefield!
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