The joy and pain of learning a new language
Posted Wednesday, May 2 2012 at 00:00
With Pudd’ng now speaking English nineteen to the dozen, I have had no option but to be privy to some of the bloopers that her little tongue spews.
But I give her credit, though; she knows more things, academically, than I did at her age.
And speaking of conversing, Tenderoni was telling me how, whenever Pudd’ng meets one of her classmates, they speak in English.
Which leaves bystanders wondering what these “hood” kids are all about.
The other night, Tenderoni was rummaging through the drawer looking for whatsitsname. From the living room, I overhead Pudd’ng ask: “Mom? Have you found the details you were looking for?”
Check this out...
Me before every I
This was bound to happen, even in the best grammar school in the county. It is strange how baby girl has picked up this expression, which, if I am not wrong, is peculiar only to Kenyans. Methinks we are influenced by our mother tongues, which we tend to directly translate from.
“Me I don’t want to drink porridge,” baby girl keeps complaining and, at this rate, I think one of these fine mornings she will start hollering, “Chai ni haki yangu.”
I have not tried to correct her yet, although I am tempted because, as they say, strike the hammer while the iron is still hot. I am not the language police, so I let things like this slide...
“Me, I want you to throw me a party,” she has been singing this song for the past couple of days. “Me I know how to wash myself,” Pudd’ng asserted this morning, and next thing we heard when Tenderoni asked her how far she was, was: “I’m now washing the bathroom door.”
Suffixes after Kiswahili words
With this, I mean the tendency of Kenyans to mix English and Kiswahili or mother tongue to form a language only they can comprehend.
“Dad? Mom is ringia-ing me,” Pudd’ng informed me this morning, all weepy. She meant that Tenderoni was showing off. I also think that, at her age, she inserts a Kiswahili word in an English sentence when she cannot find the right English word.
“Teacher said good girls should be saidia-ing their parents at home,” she told me, and made me wonder if the same mixed language happens in school.
And I have realised that the media — the idiot box, to be exact — has something to do with how her language evolves.
For a long time, she used to call her grandma cucu, which is Gikuyu. I tried to correct her, but lost the battle. Now it is not cucu anymore. That is so last season.
The other day she was from her grandmother’s and she passed me greetings: “Shosh has said to salimia you, daddy.”