Sunday, 30 October 2011

You are Arab

This half term week has gone quickly. We were in the garden a lot of the time, making the most of the nicest end of October in many people's living memory. It has certainly been the warmest and sunniest autumn since we moved to the North of England almost eight years ago.
So, BK1 (6 and 1/2) and BK2 (3 and 3/4) are playing in their secret den (a rhododendron bush that's gone mad). Conversation between the two is flowing, in English of course. This is usually the case when they are playing.

The following conversation between BK1 and me took place mostly in Arabic, interspersed with French words. But for the sake of clarity and brevity, I'm relating it in English.
Me: "Why are you talking in English?"
BK1: "Because we are English"
Me:"Hm, really?"
BK1:"Yes, BK2 and I are English, daddy is German and you are Arab"
- pause -
Me, softly:"I am not Arab, I am, hmmm Algerian..."

How could I explain to my daughter, who is already exposed to four different languages and cultures, that I am Berber from the Atlas mountains, and proud of my lineage, even though I never speak a word of Berber at home?
I used to be very vocal of my Berber heritage back home. This part of my personality has fallen into the background since the arrival of the girls. I do not speak Berber fluently, though the girls are passively exposed to it when we are at my parents.
Now thinking about it, I should have trusted my daughter's intelligence and gone ahead and said "I am not Arab, I am Berber". I think I will next time.