Until recently, I would have said that I was fluent in only one language. English. I know a random smattering of Spanish from my public school Spanish classes, but even that is minimal. Of course, moving school districts didn’t help anything either. I started my foreign-language introduction in a school that made you take half a year of both and then pick which one…so my language instruction went something like this:
Intro to Spanish (which was basically the first half of Spanish I )
Intro to French
Spanish I (because, lets be honest, after half a year of French you no longer remember any of that first half-year of Spanish)
Move and Switch Schools
Spanish I (…again).
So, basically I have a really good useless Spanish-I level vocabulary (heck, I took it three times). I can say things like library, bicycle, and cat. I can count to 100, and say stupid sentences like: “I am a girl,” and “Where is my Aunt?”
And this helps me how?
Yea, it doesn’t. Were I to travel to a Spanish speaking country, my extensive but pointless vocab words would not help me communicate or get around. Not one bit. Unless I was looking for the library, or wanted to buy a cat…but probably not.
However, I can now proudly say that I am fluent in two languages! English, and Toddler.
I’m not joking. Those of you without two-year-olds have NO idea. Just you wait. It’s no laughing matter. You pretty much need to take classes, or you’re lost. Clueless. Donde-esta-un-biblioteca-lost.
For instance, can you understand the following sentence?
“OOOOh! Maaamim. Bop-it bips! Ajhee, maaahn pease. tee-tow mommy.”
My point exactly. It’s a completely different language. And I know it, fluently. (Also, for your reference, that sentence literally translated says: “Ooooh! Muffin! Chocolate Chips! Oliver milk, please. Thank you mommy.”)
Yes. Be impressed. Be very impressed. I can hear it, speak it, and write it.
I am awesome….er: “Me, Aweshoo!”
One problem, however, is that when we go out in public, other people do not understand this language. They try to translate what my two-year-old is saying literally, by assigning his words phonetically to words that they understand. The result is mass-confusion that points to bad parenting on my part when people think that my toddler is saying things like: “I go potty in the street”
Harmless, you say? No big deal, you say?
Let me teach you another word. Pacifier. A usual, ordinary, everyone-with-a-baby-knows-it kind of word. Until my toddler gets a hold of it. Somehow those letters get all twisted and jumbled up and stuck on his tongue and he says:
Ash – a – hoe
But, the “A” runs into the “hoe” and then what you get is:
And if you still don’t get the inappropriateness of this used-to-be-harmless word, say it ALOUD, fast. (Note to parents: not with your kids around!)
Yes…it ends up sounding like my toddler is shouting a word that begins with another name for a donkey and ends with -hole.
Oliver decided to discuss this with the check-out clerk the other day before I realized what this sounded like to those not fluent in Toddler.
Our saleslady gets a funny look on her face. I notice, but the reason doesn’t dawn on me as I distractedly get out my wallet and coupons.
Oliver: “Beeba! Ash-hoe!” (as usual, he starts getting louder and more frustrated because she is not understanding what he’s getting at…he’s practically shouting now). “Ash-hoe! ASH-HOE!”
I realize he’s yelling now and glance up from paying my bill to see that our saleslady is looking a little pale. Hmmm, that’s odd. I turn to Oliver, who is frantically waving at the baby and shouting at the top of his lungs because her pacifier fell out and he thinks she needs it back, and say: “Yes, Oliver, baby’s pacifier fell out. It’s ok.”
I hear a sigh of relief from the saleslady. “Oh!” she exclaims…”Pacifier!”
I assume her relief is due to the fact that I have finally translated for her and she is no longer being shouted at in a language she does not understand.
That is, until I get home and Sam tells me: “We need to come up with another word for pacifier. Do you realize what it sounds like he is saying?”
It’s no wonder our saleslady looked a little pale. Oliver was looking at her and shouting “ASH-HOE!”
What kind of parent teaches their two year old such words anyways? What kind of home does he live in? Why would he call a complete stranger (and a nice lady to boot!) such a horrible name? Or shout it at his sister!
Now I really wish I had translated sooner and not been so distracted.