Sunday, January 20, 2008

Basement is Keller on German

Emma has been on a tear lately with realizing that there are two languages. Not sure what triggered it. Her age is definitely a factor. At church she and Ian started going to Nursery in Primary (Primarvereinigung [PV]). Here in German Nursery is called Kindergarten and our congregation is mainly German, so the teachers naturally speak German. That's her first big experience, i.e., direct constant interaction, with German outside of the home. Maybe it's something else I'm not thinking of.

At any rate she has been noticing the differences in the two languages quite a bit more this week. After proclaiming that Dark is not Dunkel early last week, she began telling me that "basement is Keller on German (or sometimes on Deutsch)." For those who know German, you may theorize, as I did, that the "on German" phrasing Emma used comes from the German phrase "wie hei├čt das auf Deutsch?" Or, it is a simple mixing up of the prepositions. Regardless, the German preposition auf can be used to mean both in and on.

It is amazing to watch her mind make sense of a bilingual world. Not being an expert on the subject I just enjoy watching her growth. I know it will be hard and maybe she will struggle in both languages, but there are many hard things in life. I think that Emma's awareness of the two languages is simply a sign that she will make it through the bilingual experience alright.

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March 2007