It is so hot out now that Yago and I have to take our walk early if we want to escape the blazing sun. Spanish early that is, about 9:30am. It’s a busy time on the waterway with all the unemployed dog walkers, fisherman and joggers doing the same. Since the unemployment rate exploded to over 20% we have noticed a definite increase in morning pedestrian traffic.
All the better for amusing Yago. He loves waving hello to the dogs and often people stop to talk to us. Funny, nobody talked to me before I had a blonde bombshell at my side.
We generally have a standard small talk exchange that begins with the dog and the kid, then shifts to the weather, and then the inevitable, “Your kid is very blonde and you have an accent. Where are you from?”
I’ll always have an accent. My Spanish is definitely passable now, but it is obvious that I am not a native speaker. Yago on the other hand will grow up native in both English and Spanish. His first (and only) word is Hola.
Lately I have been doing a lot of reading on bilingualism in children. What sticks out is just how easily children unconsciously absorb language and what a pain in the butt it is to learn a language as an adult. Most adults without second language studies hold scant conscious perception of the range of grammar and vocabulary they have assimilated in their native tongue. The tenses and parts of speech. All the rules and all the exceptions. The expressions and colloquialisms. Most of us use our language all day, but have no idea how it works.
Case in point:
Here is a transcript of one of today’s conversations. Note: This conversation took place in Spanish.
- Stranger with dog: “Cute kid, hot day, yada yada etc. Where are you from?”
- Me: “He was born in Spain and his Dad is Spanish, but I am Canadian.”
- Stranger: “Do you speak Spanish?”
- Me, slightly boggled: “hhhmmmmm. Yes, yes I do.”
- Stranger: “Well, you really should learn. That is the problem with you immigrants around here. You don’t speak Spanish.”
- Me: “Good point. Maybe I’ll look into that.”
I would love to know what language he thought we were speaking. English? Pig latin? Mental telepathy? Maybe he just wasn’t the sharpest sword in the bull fighting ring.
I considered probing him a bit but let it go. He was happy that he had told an immigrant what for. Yago had happily said, “Hola, Hola, Hola” (in Spanish) to his dog. And I had something amusing to blog about.
No pictures unfortunately. The only interesting photo I took today was of a guy taking a leak. You have that to look forward to tomorrow.