Monday 18 January 2010

A new hybrid language is born!

Being Algerian, I mix Arabic and French as standard practice. Algerian is a kind of pidgin Arabic, with French verbs conjugated in Arabic, and French nouns roughly "arabised".

BK1 speaks this hybrid language, and further hybridises it by adding English words and expressions.

A new dimension has appeared recently. BK1 speaks Arabic/French with BK2, I'd say about 90% of  the time. The remaining 10% is German, when the girls are with their dad and I am not around. Now BK1 has invented the Arabic/German hybrid in sentences such as: "T'habbi Taqraï (a) Buch(g)?" (do you want to read a book?) or "T'habbi taqqaadi fouk (a) Schoss(g)?" (do you want to sit on my knees?).

This happens when BK2  utters the words "Buch" and "Schoss", and BK1 reprises them in their conversation which is usually in Arabic. Now why does BK1 not translate the German words into Arabic or French? Is it because of the limitations of her vocabulary in these two languages? Is it because she is used to hybridising Arabic with French and/or English, so adding German to the equation is natural to her?

Will the girls ever speak Arabic properly, with minimal mixing? Only time will tell, and these are early days.


  1. Funny, we have the very same going on around here. English start of the sentence with German nouns - this passes for "German", if she uses English nouns, this passes for "English" in her mind. I think it may be to do with children who grow up bilingually having the languages closer together in their brains, rather than two separate areas - so while English and German in my brain are quite separate areas, they are one big language area in my daughter's brain which could equate to more mixing. Of course that doesn't explain the type of mixing with nouns being particularly affected by it.

  2. That is an interesting thought, indeed, the fact that different languages have not got different areas in the brain, yet. Thanks for sharing "cartside"!

  3. My boys too are often mixing up English and Mandarin. However when they ae speaking to their teachers or grandparents they know how to speak purely in the language they are being spoken to. Really amuses me.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.