Saturday, 1 August 2009

Doing the dual lingo.

When I was a child us siblings used to speak Swedish at home. It was only when we realised that things were said by our parents beyond our understanding that we each in turn learned how to speak English. Then, out of laziness we developed our own form of Swenglish/svengelska, basically a basa basa mix of Swedish and English, picking a word from either of the two languages, whatever came first. Somehow we even got our parents to speak this Swenglish with us. It's been hard for people outside our family, whether English speaking, Swedish or bilingual, to follow our personalised blend of these languages.

After years of living in England, my Swenglish has tilted more towards English, it's now an 80%/20% mix instead of the former 50/50. English is the language I consider my home language, I think of family, relatives and relaxation when I speak it. Swedish, although that is the language I am more confident in and have a better grasp of, to me is the language I use with friends and associate with life outside the home.

At the beginning of my pregnancy I decided I'd have to speak Swedish with my children in order to carry on the heritage. In real life though, I have put this off further and further as I just can't seem to speak this at home. First I said I'd wait til we got home from hospital, then I said after she turned two months, then three months. In the end, I'd speak Swedish to her when around people I'd speak Swedish with. I finally decided I'd have to start speaking it fully with her once I left Sweden, after all then she'd never hear it from anyone else.

However, yesterday when we left Swedish soil, it just wouldn't come naturally so I told myself that being the end of the month, I could have another day off (logic?) and set my final deadline as Aug 1st, today. Well, so far so good. I guess I made it easier for myself by getting inspiration from IKEA in Purley Way (don't ask me what I was doing there on my first full day in London) and every now and then I'd stop myself from saying something in Englsih and rather say it in Swedish. The poor child will end up completely confused, but hopefully she'll benefit from it later.

Little by little we'll get there and in a few years time I hope to have a daughter who's fluent in English, Swedish, Ga and Twi. Poor kid.


Anonymous said...

Vad kul att ni ar i London, hur lange ska ni vara har?
Jag har inte kvar din mail adress, men du kan val maila mig pa:
Kram Pernilla

Maya Mame said...

Hej Pernilla,
Skickad enyss så att du har adressen. Ska vi försöka ses?

posekyere said...

Hi Maya Mame.
Good mother.
Glad to read that you are doing all you can to pass on the language skills to the young lady.
Bless you and your family.

Maya Mame said...

Thanks, Posekyere!

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

London? Does that men you are on your way further south...? DOnt worry, Auntie Kajsa will speak Swedish ONLY with the poor child and her mother ;-)

Maya Mame said...

Yes, we're slowly heading south, finally! Good she'll hear Swedish from Auntie K but don't impose your east coast accent on her, this girl's gonna speak pure göteborska!

Yngvild said...

I totally support your decision to speak Swedish with your daughter, I'm also planning for our children to speak Norwegian and Twi and learn English in school :) Easier said than done though I guess.. :) Safe trip to Ghana whenever you go there!

Maya Mame said...

Definitely easier said than done! So far I've managed a few sentences a day and it'll probably get worse when hubby gets here in a few days. Better kick in to higher gear tomorrow...

Abena said...

Very interesting....I really think it is important to get as many languages in when you daughter is young especially the Ghanaian ones. This comes from me being born in Southern Africa, having English as a first language and speaking appalling Twi. My big sister on the other hand was born in Ghana and speaks English, Twi, Zulu, Sesotho as well as French fluently. Languages have been an asset to her professionally and socially.

Maya Mame said...

Abena, I'm so jealous of your sister! I know your feeling though, still struggling with the Twi.


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