Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New year's multilingual thoughts

We spent some time in Italy during the holidays, and Milo seemed much more relaxed than usual, as if the fact that he had to deal with just one language (the Belgianite speaks mainly Italian when we are there, even with me) released him from some tension. He picked up on a lot of vocabulary and impressed all of the family with his conversational skills!

However, he did spoke in Dutch to Zeno on a few occasions. They were pretending to be at sea and I heard Milo saying: " Kijk!, Zeno, een kleine haai!" (Look, a small shark).

He also would sing his French Xmas songs by himself from time to time. So his two other languages remained active, and at the same time he fully enjoyed the full immersion in Italian.

He's very adorable and responsible, perhaps an innate characteristic of first borns; while traveling he kept on checking on Zeno (Are you comfortable Zeno? Everyhting ok?)

Zeno on the other hand is exploding linguistically, he adds a few words every day, mainly in Italian and French. He seems to be extremely attentive to what Milo says, and repeats it all. He has a rather nasal way of pronouncing certain words, especially starting with labial sounds. I remember Milo also took some time before pronouncing correctly certain sounds, and he still does not have a rolling "r" in Italian (and probably never will):
  • he says fommaggio instead of formaggio, while in French he says impeccably fromage;
  • he has a hard time with the sound "st" (in French he'd say ouittiti instead of ouistiti, in Italian la ttazione instead of la stazione)
  • he has a hard time with the sound "sw" in Dutch (Watte Piet instead of Swarte Piet).

Zeno also has a fantastic ear for music, as soon as he hears a tune, he's gotta dance. He's the 'Happy Feet' of the family!

10 comments:

Lilian said...

Linton also has a wonderful ear for music. He'd hum a song perfectly in tune at around 9 months. Maybe it's a second child thing (or just a coincidence with your family and ours), to be musical.

I love to hear about your sons'language development, particularly Milo's growing vocabulary.

Brikebrok said...

Mine don't have a rolling italian "r" neither ...

giovanni said...

They both discover a whole new world of words, languages, tunes, sounds. My son cannot pronounce the rolling "r" either but says eloquently bonjour papa... He thinks it's too late to learn the rolling "r", but I'm not sure.

Olga said...

It's so nice to find someone with a similar story : I'm Italian too, married to a Dutch, living in Paris but speaking English at home! Your Family Language Diagram applies perfectly too our family too! Just found out about your blog so I have some reading to catch up...
Un caro saluto da una Piemontesina bella!(insomma "ina" e insomma "bella"!!!)
A presto!!

Sarah said...

I would love to profile your family on my blog! I have a questionnaire that asks about how and why you're raising your children with more than one language. I think your responses would help a lot of other parents! If you're interested and would have time, please email me (babybilingual at gmail dot com) and I'll send it to you.

In the meantime, please keep posting about your family's language development!

MamaShift said...

Hi, just came across your blog through expat-blog. We're doing three languages at home, currently. I'd like to teach my girls Italian -- guess I should get cracking, huh?

Hope to see more of you here!

Seumas said...

Have you stopped blogging? Please don't, your blog is too interesting for that!

Brikebrok said...

ciao cara !
sul mio blog c'è un meme per te !

Mme. Meow said...

I hope you and your family are doing well, and that you can resume blogging soon!

JL said...

Hi! I am Italian, my wife is Spanish and we live in England. We still don't have children but we are planning to fix this soon :)
Between us, we've always spoken English. I would like to know if we should change and start speaking in our native languages when we have children. Is there any place we can find "scientifical" advices of what's the best way? If we only spoke English, we'd make the child lose the advantage of knowing more languages and it'd be impossible for him to ever communicate with the rest of our family. On the other hand, we are concerned about "messing up" his head. Is there a best thing to do?