Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A seemingly underwhelming knowledge of Danish

Anna and Léon by PhylB
Anna and Léon, a photo by PhylB on Flickr.

Both Anna and Léon have independently been exploring what makes them different from their classmates in the last week or two. 

Anna came home after a few weeks at school and told me she'd had a talk with her teacher about her other language:
                    I told my teacher I speak Danish too, she announced
                    Did you speak to her in Danish? I asked
                    Not whole sentences, I just taught her a few words.
                    Which words?
                    I told her Danish for Hi is Hej (pronounced more or less the same) I told her trampoline                      
                    is trampolin and I told her panda is panda! 

As someone who didn't grow up bilingually but was always fascinated by language, I found it mind-blowing that my child would choose such underwhelming words to 'impress' her teacher. I would have thought coming up with words that sound really different like pølse, haven, kanin (sausage, garden, rabbit) might have impressed more? Maybe I am just more of a show-off at heart, and Anna is more nurturing, trying not to scare her 'pupil' at first? I don't know.

Anyway, amusingly I let it lie and a few days later Léon came in and announced:
                      I've decided to teach my friend Fraser Danish! 
                      (Léon hadn't been present at my previous chat with Anna). 
                      That's nice, I replied, what have you taught him? 
                      I told him Danish for hi is hej! I told him Danish for September is september...

What is it with you two? You speak the bloody language! Can't you even tell them how to count to ten or something before they all think you're daft when you say you're bilingual?!


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