singing all the time

Toronto, 2014.05.12

When a toddler grows up in a bilingual home, and hits the sing-all-day phase, the result is one long nursery rhyme mash-up. Emma's current favorite is "twinkle, twinkle little star", into which she works the Japanese word 'hikaru' (to sparkle) from the Japanese version. She does this by switching from verb-first English to verb-last Japanese at the end of the first sentence; so she's literally singing "twinkle twinkle twinkle". The next verse is part of the alphabet song, and then she goes into happy birthday and a variety of other songs in both languages.

One side effect of all of this is that I'm losing my grasp on* the meaning of Japanese words as I foolishly try to decipher the meaning of what she's saying. After six+ years with Ken, you'd think I'd be cured of this, but no.

(*and sanity)

As for The Boy, he speaks in his mother's dialect, and I'm slowly picking up the meaning of the many words they use which weren't part of our life in Tokyo (where Mari used the Tokyo-ben). Mari's dialect has some confusing departures from standard grammar, so I guess the kid's going to have to relearn the language if he ever moves (back) to the smoke. His mum's accent also colors his English; he says some words in ways no English speaker does, like 'chief' for teeth. At the same time, I hear my own muddle Southern Ontario accents in some things he says, and find myself telling him, "It's not 'wadder', it's 'water'".

Poor kids.

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