Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

April 03, 2005

preschool Spanglish

Georgia handed me our Spanish dictionary opened to a random page:

Georgia: Read this book to me.
Me: Well it's a dictionary. You don't usually read them straight through, you look up words that you want to know about.
Georgia: Well read this page.
Me: OK, I'll pick out some interesting ones. Here's cuello. That means neck.
Georgia: Oh, cuello. So like you're wearing a turtlecuello. (I was wearing a turtleneck shirt.)
Me: Exactly!

Later that day, after learning that nina (exept there's supposed to be a ~ over the second n so it sounds like ninya, but I don't know how to make that letter on my keyboard, so I'll just spell it phonetically) means girl from Sesame Street, I said to Georgia:

Me: So you're a ninya.
Georgia: And Maya's a ninya.
Maya: I'm not a ninya!
Georgia:(laughing) Yes you are a ninya.
Me: Ninya means girl in Spanish. It's OK, it's not something bad, it's just in another language.
Maya: But I'm not a ninya!
Georgia: Yes you are!
Me: It's ok, don't worry, you don't have to be ninya.
(I was so amused by Maya's perfect pronunciation during this exchange that I couldn't help prolonging her agony to get in a little more Spanish practise here.)
Me: And we live in a casa.
Georgia: What does casa mean?
Maya: We do NOT live in a casa!
Me: It means house.
Georgia: Oh yeah! This is a casa.
Maya: No! We do NOT live in a casa!
Me: Ok ok, does anyone want a snack? (change of subject to end Maya's distress)

I wonder why Maya was so insistent about that. Maybe it's confusing or she just wasn't in the mood or there's some developmental psychology reason for it. Its fun to play with languages with the kids after studying language acquisition so much in school because I get really honest reactions and feedback to whatever teaching method I try. Georgia usually laughs really hard when I teach her a Spanih word. She thinks they sound really funny. Examples that have made her giggle: hija (ee-ha), y tu? (ee-2), muy bien (moo-ee beeyen), once (own-say). (Translations: daughter, and you?, very good, eleven.)

On an almost totally unrelated subject, I saw the movie Spanglish right before Teresa was born and I really loved it. I thought the mother-daughter relationships described were so interesting and mde me really think about the potentials of that relationship.

Posted by Bahiyyih at April 3, 2005 02:21 PM

By the way, I want everyone to admire Bahíyyih's mad one-handed typing skills.

Thanks for the story, sweetie. I heard the aftershocks later --

G: "Ninya". That means girl.
Daddy: Oh, a little girl, like Maya?
G: It means just any girl.
M: I'm not a ninya!
D: It's okay, Maya
G: Yes, you are!
M: No I'm not!
G (to D): And you're a ninyo.
M: No, he's not!


I wonder if Maya, who is *very precise* with her speaking, is objecting to changes in the rules of language that she has so recently (and triumphantly) figured out?

Posted by: Billy at April 3, 2005 03:30 PM

These are such funny and cute exchanges! I just read the conversations aloud to my dad. I thought he'd especially enjoy them as he also took the time to teach my sisters and I words in Spanish as we were growing up. And he did!

Thanks for sharing the joy! :)

Posted by: Heather at April 3, 2005 10:38 PM