Code Mixing

Yesterday morning, Pata was playing with her bath toys. As she pulled each one from the mesh bag that holds them, I asked her for their names.

Pinguino,” she said, holding the penguin up for me to see.

“That’s a penguin,” I told her, in the nth futile attempt to teach her the English word.

She placed the pinguino on the edge of the tub and rooted around in the bag for a few seconds before drawing out another animal.

“Oh, what’s that, I asked?

“Duck! Quack quack.” She said, placing it next to the penguin.

“Ooh! Ooh!” she cried, looking into the bag. She pulled out a seahorse, and without my prompting, exclaimed, “Questa…caba…caba luccio (cavalluccio)!”

“Oh, that’s a seahorse,” I said.

“Oh, horse!” she repeated. Then she neighed.

“No, it’s a seahorse,” I told her, “it doesn’t make that sound. Seahorse. Say, seahorse.”

“Oh, (yes). Sìsìhorse!”

I decided to let that one go. It was too cute to be corrected.

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13 responses to “Code Mixing

  1. Funny. The attempts are not futile; she will one day be thankful that you repeated and repeated and repeated and insisted, the day when she discovers that her natural fluency and literacy in two languages is a gift that many don't share. (But you know that. . .right?)

  2. Ooooh! That is ADORABLE!Don't worry though. I'm sure when she gets older she'll become perfectly fluent in both and you can marvel at what an amazing little daughter you have :)

  3. I like that – Sìsìhorse. I think this is an uphill battle with teaching them English though.

  4. She does a fair bit of code mixing, but this has been my favorite example so far! J. Doe, that's possible, but she always repeats sì like that to say yes, and sea is another of those words that seems not to stick in English…she prefers mare.

  5. Sisihorse! Oh she is adorable! Luca is mixing things up too, he will say "let's go di la", as in andiamo di la, or sometimes he will say simply "di la" when he wants to go. I guess it's inevitable that bilingual toddlers do this kind of mixing of languages.

  6. Oh that is really cute.I miss that muddled up stage.Son of Thor had his materna teachers first bemused and then giggling when he announced that there were 6 cazzini in our house.Kittens, little cats, not anything to do with small willies, as first suspected.

  7. Amber, I've read that some linguists think that it's a way of trying out code switching, which is more conscious and purposeful mixing of languages. Very interesting!Hi Sarah, welcome! You comment made me laugh out loud when I heard it. Cazzini! That is priceless.

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