Bilingual

During the daytime work hours my daughter, Beatrix, is taken care of at the home of a young lady (whom I will call “CJ” for the reasons of safety and privacy) and her son, who is about a year and a half older than Beatrix. We think the world of her (of both of them actually). She treats Beatrix with the same love, kindness and compassion she displays for her own child. She is extremely active and loves to take them to museums, parks, zoos, play dates – basically anything to keep them the happiest of children. It’s perfect.

CJ is from England and still has a very proper accent. Being an unabashed Anglophile myself, this only helps solidify her position as a permanent addition to our extended family. It has also been a fascinating experiment in the nature of language learning and linguistics with the test subject being Beatrix.

You see, when Beatrix is around CJ or, in conversation discussing anything related to CJ or her son, she uses British terms in place of American ones where a difference exists. For instance…

  • Shopping Cart = Trolley
  • Trash Can = Rubbish Bin (Bin for short)
  • Diaper = Nappy
  • Trunk = Boot

When she is with us or speaking to us, she uses the American phrase. In other words, she has become bilingual in two versions of the English language and, at age two and a half, knows which of these two “languages” to speak based upon the others in conversation with her.

For those of you who are in bilingual homes or have immersion school/daycare experience, this may be just the way it works. That said, to see it happen within the confines of a language that is largely shared is a fascinating peek into the way the brain works and how important it is that we expose our children to such experiences at the earliest age possible.

home/ journal/ books/ dash/plus/ archives/ rss