Monday, August 24, 2009

Multilingual or linguistically challenged?

Uncharacteristically I have been writing some travel posts on this blog! As everyone who knows/ has been exposed to (yes I am the human equivalent of a virus.. and beware very contagious) would agree I find it very difficult to get serious! All my pictures have these big Cheshire cat grins which not only shows off my yellowing teeth (come on.. they are growing old with chocolates and candies.. and my culinary escapades have left their mark) but also my gum's! If I ever tried a serious expression in a picture I end up looking ridiculous and the picture is object of further hilarity. Like the time my sister-in-law (sil) told me not to grin at least in one picture.. I actually have a huge pout and look about to cry.. maybe now people would believe stories about the tortures of my sil.. As of now, no one believes a word of it and declare rightly so that it must be the other way around!

Back to the point, I have been writing travel posts on this blog (and the reason I keep repeating that statement is) in case you haven't noticed! However I did notice that my readership has gone down drastically.. and I am mourning the loss! Some well meaning critics of mine told me.. my travel posts aren't half as interesting as my regular programming (that is considering that people actually do want to read my blog in the first place and don't have to be prodded/ pushed/ bashed up/ tied down to read it)... While the comments stood silent testimony to the fact that I was getting {yawn} boring (and am still unable to snap out of it.. someone stop me from going on and on and on) I kept at it with the determination that I would put down into words my travel escapades for the sake of posterity (most likely it would be only me reading it.. but why admit to that?)

Back to regular Cheeky programming! Cheeky has been having a blast in India.. he declared to a friend of mine a week ago that he now knows 5 languages officially.. them being Tamil, Spanish, French, Russian and Hindi.. On being reminded the fact that he seemed to know English too for he was talking in that one he declared "Oh yes I can speak 2 accents of English - American and Indian so now I know 7 languages" thank goodness he did not add the different accents in America "Yankee, Californian, Southern.....Confused (like Mommy's!) ..."! Now does he really know all these languages? Oh yes he does!

He can speak a decent Tamil.. except sometimes it ends up sounding like unintelligible English..but most of the time he gets it right and Mommy bears a proud accomplished grin as a result!

Spanish.. if you utter the word Spanish to Cheeky he will talk in length (in English I must add) about how he can speak in Spanish and somewhere along the line you are bound to hear the word "Mayo". Then you know you have encountered the lengths of his knowledge in Spanish. At school they made the mistake of teaching Cheeky the months in Spanish.. and ever since we hear the months all consistently pronounced wrongly at least once a day with the declaration that "I can speak Spanish, you know May in Spanish is Mayo"

Lets now move on to French... I learnt french for a couple of years in school. Let alone the Frenchmen, if a person learning french .. be it Rosetta stone or Alliance francais hears me they would be prompted to either
a. Hang themselves
b. Push me off the edge of a cliff!
For the records, I would prefer the former!
Anyway, back to French; M was planning a trip to Cannes, France a few months back. Having gathered that many people around there don't speak English, I (and all of my linguistically challenged self) took it upon myself to teach M french! So I would translate everything into french for a while. It was a good thing that M ended up not going, for if he had gone, he and his french would have been packed off back to the land of the confused accents (America!!) on the next flight! However as a result of all my toils, Cheeky now claims he knows French.. Ask him to talk and he will reply "Merci" - Thank you!

As for Russian. Cheeky had a friend in school whose parents were natives of Russia. Even though the mom (don't know about the dad) hasn't lived in Russia for many years, I gather she speaks Russian at home. I am not sure if this prompted Cheeky, or just that Russia is a mysteriously charming place for him.. he asked his aunt to "Google up I love you in Russian" ever since he has been telling us every once in a while "Ya tabeya liyo bleu".. whether that's Russian or not.. that's his idea of Russian and as of now (till we prompt a Russian to push us off the cliff) mine too..!

Hindi... when Cheeky was a kid I would turn on some Hindi movies and Cheeky would go stomping mad "mommy make them stop that olaral" (gibberish) he would plead! Since then he has become a lot more accommodating even if his knowledge of Hindi has not improved in the least. And I prefer to keep it that way, we do need some mode of un-cheeky-telligible communication between us adults right? We have progressed from Tamil, to English, to Spelling words to now Hindi! And now I am at the risk of losing that too ... As you have gathered by now, Cheeky loves to talk and is always waiting for yet another person (stranger or otherwise) that he can talk to. So my cousin asked me what Cheeky did in Delhi and the other places we visited.. and I said "Oh he talked".. She looked at me surprised.. I must say that for a little person with such a meager vocabulary of Hindi (His Hindi vocabulary includes his favorite word Nahin - no and a few others Acha - ok, Haan- yes, Teek hein - ok), he managed to keep rambling pretty well.. oh and he also knows Mein and Tu (me and you). So his sentence would sound like this "Auto haan mein haan tu nahin photo teek hein?" And the result.. a picture of him sitting in the driver seat of the auto.. and the auto driver dude standing and looking cheerfully after having relinquished his throne!

Now to English and the accents.. this is something I am really having a tough time coping with. In an attempt to talk Indian English, the Cheeky Imp has been saying "Darive" and "Stareet", "Charuchu" - That's Church in case you are wondering and "tirubbbleu" - trouble! Although no one around him quite speaks in such a terrible accent (leave alone the fact that he mocks even(!!) my accent), Cheeky has taken it upon himself as he describes " to help people in India understand his English". If I correct him I am reprimanded "Amma if I talk in American accent no one will get it" Sigh! I just hope the terribbbleee-u accent-u is not herrre to stayyy!

With that note and the hope that my readership will improve with a Cheeky post.. signing off!
(images: http://www.building-blocks-nursery.co.uk, http://blogs.davenportlibrary.com, http://3.bp.blogspot.com, http://www.louielouie.net)

[EDITED TO ADD: I narrated the story of this post to M this afternoon as he resolutely refused to read my post and I incessantly kept pushing it down his ears.. Cheeky on hearing it declared.. "Amma its not 7 languages, its 6 languages and 2 accents". The exasperated look that accompanied this statement, said the rest! I promised him that I would add a "Edited to Add" section for which he replied "Why Amma, just press backspace and delete it!" Phew why do I never learn ?]

22 comments:

swapnap said...

That was awesome..loved cheeky btw.
Hope to come around for more!

PG said...

LOl! He is smart and cute! I guess I have missed a number of your posts, but the reasons are surely not you but me myself, haven't blogsurfed much in ages. All the same, loved reding it! :)

Preethi said...

Swapnap - Welcome here.. thanks and do come back! :)
pg - Welcome back girl.. you have been missed! How are you doing?

Suma said...

he knows a lot that's for sure..

i think his blog title would be 'bringing up Mummy' :D *goes away very pleased with her little joke :) ;)

Pavi!!!! said...

 kids n their smartness!

My sis was telling me that she had read someplace that until the age of 5..kids can absorb upto 14 languages!!! Such is the brain of a child!

N OH YEAH! As far as having one lang for adults to communicate w/o the child being able to comprehend. My mom n sis talk in kannada to keep secrets from Rishab but hes already picked up several words of kannada in abt a month.. so well…

*special* Cheeky posts were missed..but I loved ur travelogue, of which cheeky was very much a part of..[though u mite like to think otherwise ;)].

lol..loved suma's joke :D

Sumana said...

Oh comeon we have been reading all your travel blogs. But one thing for sure we need the cheeky bit to comment. No definitely was wonderful. You never get it right mommy the backspace was such a wonderful one. He is just one intelligent fella.

2 B's mommy said...

I know I haven't been reading blogs as regularly, but trust me, I enjoyed reading your travel post.
I love your style of writing - I wish I could write like that ! It makes each and every post, cheeky and non cheeky, very very enjoyable.

Preethi said...

Suma - Applause.. on your little joke :P seriously wont be a bit surprised if the day comes!
Pavi - Yeah the kids are so fast that they leave us looking like blubbering idiots most of the time :)
2BM - Thanks for the vote!! :D dont mind me.. I keep wanting more all the time!!

Preethi said...

Sumana - hehe.. by now you should know that I love to have 100's of commetns.. so I always fall short of the target.. however, I am also very glad that you and others have been such religious followers of my blog.. you guys make my day... all the time :)

Aryan said...

Cheeky is super cool...even in your travel blog i see programming about cheeky...so no worry preeti...we are here to read your blog...keep writing
Aryan's mom

VJ said...

True Cheeky post !!!
well and truly enjoyed !!
:-)
My niece and nephew do the same too with local english... they learn in and speak in the most horrible way !!

Rambler said...

i seriously cant wait to read him blog..may be in all those 6 langs and 2 accents

Mama - Mia said...

cheeky tales are always fun! and yes so are your travelogues (considering you had to hear that from us with all that mopey rambling!:p).

and my gums can be seen too! sometimes more than my teeth even! hah! :p

and Cheeky is one rocking kid! he defi has your sense of humour!! and me, i just know like 3 languages! tch! tch!

cheers!

Hip Grandma said...

Coming here after a looong time.But your post was hilarious.You do have a smart kid to deal with.Best of luck.Soon you and M are going to have no language to talk in.BTW my french is equally bad.I can read and understand to a limited extent.speaking??God save the listener.

Aryan said...

Where are you? No new posts?
Aryan's Mom

rayshma said...

but i LOVED ur travel posts!
and i'm a regular here!!! :P

not too much time till cheeky gets frustrated with you and starts his own blog! :D

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Nice post ! Cheeky sounds like one happy / smart kid :)

lostonthestreet said...

Hey I have been reading your travel posts.You know I would love those!!
Though yeah, this one is better.
What a kid/:-)

Preethi said...

Thanks folks.. I am winding up my vacation and getting ready to head back home.. :) will have to wait and blog when I get back to home ground!

Neera said...

I laughed aloud at his Hindi :) and the made up Indian English accent :)) HE is such a smart boy and my what a chatterbox!

And guess what I came to ur blog for ..for checking out the post on Agra for that's where we might be headed next ..so u know folks would be reading ur travel posts at the right time ;)

Preethi said...

Neera - thanks for the vote :)

Anonymous said...

Still not blogging...???
Aryan's Mom