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Monday, March 19, 2007

multilingual moments

D has consistently tried to speak in Welsh with Ana since her birth. I try half-heartedly in Tamil, my mother-tongue. Well, sort of. My parents and grandparents all hail from this little place where they speak a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. But, I grew up speaking a mix of Tamil, Malayalam and English with my parents.

Anyway, it becomes quite complicated to be bilingual when one word which sounds the same in two langauges mean completely different things.

Example: "Poo", in English, i am sure i don't have to explain. But, "Poo" in Tamil means Flower. Really. I am not making this up.

Of course, Tamil has its own script and structure, but, still... at this age, she can't really read, she can only hear and repeat the sounds.

Maternal grandma in Tamil is "Pattee". Now that we are potty training Ana, she knows the word "potty" which she pronounces as "pattee". And without batting an eyelid, pores over the family album and points out "Pattee".

Nothing in Welsh ever sounds similar to anything remotely English or Tamil. So, D has it easy trying to teach Ana Welsh, I'd say :-)

On the other hand, the other day, catching sight of a cow or a bull in a commercial on TV, she turned to D and excitedly blurted out, "Appa, buwch! Appa, buwch. Moo." And then, with the same breath, turned to me and said, "Amma, maadu! maadu. Moo."
(buwch, pronounced bee-yookh, is Welsh for cow; and maadu is Tamil for cow).
Both D and I couldn't stop the wide glowing grin we were sporting for a long time after that:-)

p.s: we were at the store today, and all of a sudden Ana points at her eye, looks at D and declares, "Appa, slug-ad. Ana's slug-ad", then turns to me and says, "Amma, kann. Ana's kann."

llygad=eye in Welsh, pronounced slug-aed, except the 's' at the beginning is sort of lisp-y, with a rolled tongue; kann= eye in Tamil

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At 8:33 AM, Blogger Jayarama Krishnan said...

Congrats. Feel proud to read this. Seriously
:) ->That's one more glowing grin in the frame that I'm sporting!


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