Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The double last name backfires !

It was exactly a year ago, right before Zeno was born, that I was pondering if I should have jumped on the opportunity to add my last name to my sons, as the French law just changed to allow that. Your comments and shared experiences on the topic helped me substantiating my gut feeling, and right before the deadline expired, I decided to go for it. In the meantime, for every day life, I have been using mainly the Belgianite’s last name (for the kids’ doctor appointment, etc.), just as I thought. Milo’s application for his kindergarden is the first official document showcasing the double last name, and I haven’t had the slightest trouble fitting both in.

But the unthinkable just happened: as I realized that my passeport is about to expire, I asked the Belgianite to add the children on his passport as well, just to be on the safe side for summer travel. And then we smacked against the fantastic wall of pan-European legal discrepancies: the double last names are not legally recognized in Belgium! An operator at the Belgian embassy kindly offered the unbelievable piece of information:

from www.diplomatie.be

Conformément au Code de la Nationalité Belge, "est Belge l'enfant né à l'étranger :
d'un auteur belge né en Belgique ;

"Double nom"

La possibilité prévue par la loi française de choisir, pour l'enfant, le nom de la mère, du père ou celui de ses deux parents n'existe pas en droit belge.

Le fonctionnaire d'état civil français doit appliquer la loi belge en matière de nom de l'enfant.

Si l'un des parents est français et transmet sa nationalité à l'enfant, il sera possible de choisir le nom de famille dans l'acte de naissance. Cependant, ce nom ne sera pas reconnu selon la loi belge s'il n'est pas conforme aux règles du code civil belge. L'enfant portera alors deux noms différents selon sa nationalité. Ceci posera des problèmes tôt ou tard, puisque le nom sur les documents belges sera différent de celui sur l'acte de naissance et autres documents français.
A couple of days later I learnt that Italy as well does not recognize the double last name!
As Italy and Belgium allow multiple nationalities, the kids have both, but in theory we should need to issue a separate individual Italian and Belgian passeport for them with only the father’s last name (with all the potential risks of further confusion in creating another identity). And apparantly, it is all the 'fault' of the French clerks at the city hall, who should have known this (or at least checked on it) and should have forbid us to add my last name!

So, for the moment they stay on my passport, while we are hoping that the double last name regulation will be harmonized among European countries in a near future. I don't regret my choice, but I am afraid that the hassle has just begun...

Zeno 's first word!

I haven't written much about Zeno in his first year...he's been an adorable baby. He played it very cool his first six months, and then came out of his shell! He's a precocious walker, at 11 months (he actually took his first steps on my birthday! Attaboy!), and a fond explorer of the apartment! Sweet, smiling but stubborn, just like his brother! He's been singing a lot, saying the occasional ma-ma or pa-pa...but the other day, while observing very attentively his dad's laptop, the Belgianite challenged him:

Belgianite: " Zeno, dat is het computer...computer!"

And there he uttered his first intelligible word:

Zeno: "...computer..." (with a Flemish pronunciation)

Milo was amazed as well!

Milo: " Mamma, mamma, Zeno ha detto computer!"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

More on mixing languages

It's starting to happen more frequently: Milo's Italian is polluted by the Fench, hence confirming the theory that the environmental language becomes gradually the strongest.

He's been saying things like:

Milo: " Il faut mangiare...il faut mettere a posto le auto...." [we need (in french) to eat (in italian)]

Me: " Si dice ' bisogna mangiare,' Milo!

Milo: "Il faut bisogna mangiare..."

Milo: " Guarda, mamma, non marcia piu'!" (Look, it does not work anymore)

Me: " Nooo, si dice 'non funziona' !"

Milo: "Questo aereo e' cassato..." (This plane is broken)

Me: " Si dice rotto, cassato non esiste in Italiano."

In Italian he also has a hard time with the irregular forms of the past participle: he says prenduto instead of preso, romputo instead of rotto, which is kind of amusing because it means that somewhere his brain has retained the rule and knows the verb, but he hasn't been exposed enough to the actual correct past participle form.

On a personality note, I am always baffled by his acute and active sense of observation; we took the bus on Saturday, it was his first time, and as soon as he was seated he asked me alarmed:

" Mamma, ma sull' autobus non ci sono le cinture di sicurezza?"
(How come there are no security belts on the bus?)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Milo’s first cross-linguistic jocke!

The sound ‘mooh’ in Italian is the equivalent of the cows’ sound ; in Dutch it corresponds to the adjective ‘moe’, which means tired.

Bedtime coversation:

The Belgianite: "Milo, betje moe ?" (Milo are you getting sleepy?)
Milo: "Ma papa, solo le mucche fanno mooh !" (Daddy, only the cows say mooh!) (He replies in Italian to his dad)

PS : The Belgian cows say 'boo'