It took me a couple of amusing seconds to figure out that he was mimicking me singing:
“Mister Milo…who do you think you are,” a parody itself of the great Aretha tune ‘Mr. Bigstuff.’
Milo is becoming increasingly aware of languages, and interested in the English he hears spoken between mum and dad. I have been wondering if this would not be a good time to introduce English more systematically, since he’s showing curiosity; he often repeats what we say, when he manages to decode it:
- “Zeno woke up” he kept on saying this morning, after he heard me announcing it to the Belgianite.
- “It’s ready!” he repeats every night, after I bring dinner to the table.
Somehow I think I should leverage off his curiosity, but I don’t want to add too much to the plate either. For the moment I let him fish for sounds and words and expressions.
A few months back I begun naming languages for him; up until then we had been using expressions like: "Mamma says cane and papa says hond; the nanny says chien..." One day I finally set the record straight:
"Milo: Mamma parla Italiano, e papa' parla Olandese” (Mum speaks Italian, while Dad speaks Dutch)
This statement caused a family riot, as the Belgianite jumped on his horses and almost got offended at the 'olandese' part. He immediately corrected me:
"No, I speak Nederlands."
What followed was a complex conversation:
Me: “Yes, but Nederlands in Italian is Olandese, just like in English you say Dutch.”
Belgianite: "You don't understand! Holland is a region of the Netherlands, and so Olandese, as you say it, is a dialect. In Flanders, as well as the offical language of the Netherlands is Nederlands."
Me: “But there is no equivalent in Italian! We still would say Olandese. Although, in French for instance you’d say Neerlandais, now that I think of it.”
Belgianite: “Can’t you say 'neerlandese' ?”
Me: “No in Italian it is Olandese, I’m sure. You’re gonna have to explain Milo the distinction with Nederlands in Dutch.”
At this point Milo, who has been following the ping-pong match among his parents, intervened in my favor:
"Papa, tu parli olandese!!! Ooooh!!" (you speak Dutch, and that’s it!)