Monday, 5 August 2013

Blast from the Past

M, a friend of mine from uni, gave us the great pleasure of visiting us with his wife and two children. They made a brief pause on their road trip from Belgium. We're glad they stopped by.

I loved that the first thing his five year old daughter did when she arrived was to look up at her mother and  utter a long sentence, unintelligible to me. That answered any questions I might have had on the family's linguistic situation. They are clearly multilingual.

M's family is a perfect example of OPOL. The children speak Czech with their mother, French with their father, and mainly Dutch outside of the home.

It was such a lovely encounter. Not only did I get to catch up with an old friend, and introduce our respective families, we also witnessed all our children conversing and playing happily in French.

One of the lingusitic highlights of that afternoon was BK2 pleading with M, as they were preparing to leave: "teqqedrou tzidou teqaadou h'naya?" (Can you stay here a little longer?). M, who is half-Algerian, had not spoken Arabic up till then. However, BK2 knew that M spoke Arabic. Based on this piece of info, she consciously or subconsciouly decided to speak to him in what she considered their most common language. 

The  shortest distance between two points is a straight line, unless we are talking about languages and culture...

And of course, M replied to BK2 in Arabic!