Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Kid is Warping My English

So in our household, kidlet hears two languages:  Mostly English, some Dutch.  Dutch comes from his dad, English comes from me--the occasional conversation in Chinese that I have with my mom doesn't really count.  And since he's at home with me most of the time, that means he hears mostly English.

So you might think that he speaks mostly English, but somehow, against all odds, his first sentences are very clearly Dutch.  Kom, we gaan naar de auto and Papa is thuis and such-like simple sentences.  He understands English just fine and when he learns new words he usually learns the English word first.  We have both Cars and Planes (and their sequels) in English, and he loves all of the movies.  When we go places, I make a point of speaking English to him, except it doesn't always work out that way.

Like most people who learn Dutch as a second language, I often mix words up.  It usually means I insert a Dutch word where I'd typically say an English one, but I sometimes spit out English words when I'm speaking Dutch, too.  I write both "coffee" and "koffie" on the shopping list.  But worst of all is when I catch myself using Dutch sentence structures to speak English:  i.e., "I want to order for him a keyboard".  This doesn't seem so bad, but for the fact that one of my freelancing hats is copy editor.  And then there is the fact that sometimes he seems to listen to me better when I speak Dutch than when I speak English.

So linguistically, we're definitely entering an interesting era.  It'll be interesting to see where we go.