Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

18 September 2008

E’s recent language developments

OK! I’m still in catch-up mode on Elizabeth’s journal but thought I’d go ahead and include some recent notes while they’re fresh on my mind – even though I have other older notes on scraps of paper that I still need to record in the journal...

First – some background on Elizabeth’s recent language developments...

She went from using mostly two-word combinations (noun/adjective phrases and prepositional phrases in November/December of last year) to expressing entire thoughts, sometimes in whole sentences and including idiomatic expressions like: ¡Qué asco! (That’s yucky!) during and after our trip to Uruguay in May of this year. Cousins Florencia and Lucía proved to be great tutors!

A challenge of raising a bilingual child (where exposure to both languages is not equal) became clearly apparent after our return to Greenville. Elizabeth insisted on talking about herself in third person, using her name. For example: Elizabeth lo hace. (Elizabeth will do it.) Perhaps a partial explanation is that we as parents tend to refer to ourselves in third person – we’re so enamored with our newly acquired titles of Daddy and Mommy! For instance: “Mommy will help you.” Or: “Let Daddy do it.” Whatever the case, Elizabeth was hesitant to begin using first person in Spanish.

We also wondered how she would catch up in English now that she was speaking so fluidly in Spanish. But we needn’t have worried... Adding Tuesdays to her Mondays and Fridays at her school gave a great boost to her English skills. In fact, she began using first person in English before she did so in Spanish and was consequently more easily able to make the connection to yo in Spanish. Another challenge involved changes in verb endings in Spanish – changes that for the most part are not present in modern English. But we’ve come a long way since then...

On Sunday of this week, Elizabeth bit her finger while she was eating. As she was crying, she held up her finger and said: Mordí el dedo. (I bit my finger.) Morder (to bite) was a new verb for her, and she figured out the first person singular form all by herself, based on my using the second person singular form to ask: ¿Qué pasó? ¿Te mordiste el dedo? (What happened? Did you bite your finger?)

Verbs obviously present challenges not only to students of foreign language but also to children being raised in a bilingual setting! Elizabeth does what any child learning her parents’ language does – she tries to make everything fit the regular rules she’s already learning. Of course, exceptions to the rules then become the challenge… Logically, according to the rules for -ir verbs, /abrido/ should be the past participle of abrir and not the irregular abierto. That’s a common issue around our house these days. And Elizabeth will sometimes accept correction and at other times will insist on what sounds right to her. (Sounds like I’m back in the foreign language classroom sometimes?!)

Elizabeth has been involved in a lot of imaginative play lately. Specific instances last week and this week involved her Baby Doll (from Yaya for her second birthday), Ton-Ton, and her Fisher Price farm animals. She gives the animals voices (altering hers so that it’s nasal or deeper, etc.) and makes them talk to each other. (The little cat says to the dog: “I’m little.” And he replies: “I’m big.”) And the Baby Doll waves and says either “Hi!” or “Bye-bye!” – very insistently, of course, until we notice and respond!

And for a while now, she has enjoyed imaginative play with Tatá’s kitchen and the play glasses, cups, and saucers and toy food that she got last Christmas. She especially loves to serve us coffee from her little cups. (Could that be a commentary on a favorite beverage at our house?!)

She is definitely more talkative than ever! And she often tires of our conversations with each other (especially at supper or when we’re going somewhere in the car), and she wants to be involved. When she wants me to stop talking to her Daddy so that she gets a turn, she will say: ¡No hablas, Mamá! ¡No hablas! She should of course be saying: ¡No hables, Mamá! ¡No hables! But she’s obviously still learning the imperative forms of verbs – not to mention the proper language register for speaking to one’s parent and authority!

Along those lines… As she has been talking more and more and demonstrating how much her vocabulary has expanded, we’ve often commented: Tenemos una nena muy habladora. Or in English her Daddy will say: “She’s my little talker!” She will now, out of the blue, say (and make us laugh): Elizabeth habla mucho. (Elizabeth talks a lot.) And she’ll often add: Mamá habla mucho también (except that she says /tambén/). (Mommy also talks a lot.) And then to make it even funnier to us, she’ll add: Papá habla bien. (Daddy speaks well.)

Funny little girl!

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