Sunday 29 March 2009

English NOT Spoken Here

Sunday morning, the girls are at the table, supposedly eating breakfast but actually playing and chatting. I am trying to read the news on the web, and update Slinging in the Rain website. Lilia asks for rice milk, a song, some bread, cutting the piece of bread... I try to ignore her multiple requests. So,

Me: "Dqiqa, Aatini a break" (One minute, give me a break).
A five-second pause ensues.
Lilia: "Aatini cassé" (Give me "broken")
Me, finally lifting my head up: "Pardon?"
Lilia: "Aatini cassé" - pause- "Manahadrouche anglais fiddar" (Give me "broken". We do not speak English at home).

I found this hilarious.

Lilia has a tendency to speak english when playing on her own or with Ines. I usually ask her not to use english when speaking to her sister, arguing that we do not speak English at home. Well it came back flying right at my face.

The Babel Husband and I disagree on the issue of speaking English at home. He is of the opinion that the girls should speak in whichever way they feel comfortable to. I somewhat agree. However, I feel that the minority languages (arabic, french and german) should be given a fair chance against the majority language (english) as the latter is spoken everywhere outside home as well as on TV and with friends visiting. It would not be fair to expect the children to learn a language simply by hearing it spoken by their parents. They need to see a use to it.


  1. I just discovered your blog - really, really interesting! I'm fascinated by multilingual parenting although I'm not sure I would be in a position to practice it myself. Interestingly, my partner started off life bilingual (English and German), but the German was dropped by her parents once she started school on the grounds her English wasn't good enough. I think they regret it now.

  2. Thanks for your nice comment. Indeed, I hear of parents who end up using only the majority language from fear of hampering the development of their children at playgroup and/or school. I myself trust (and hope) children are able to learn what they need when they need to.
    Good luck with your thesis, the subject sounds fascinating.


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