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Piesek go jeść: Adventures with bilingualism

I think it is high time to update you on Kasper’s progress with language learning – we have gone a long way since I last blogged about this.

A bit of background information: Kasper is growing up with a Polish mum and an English dad. He is spending quite a lot of time with me at home and so his Polish is getting rather good, but we are looking at nurseries here in Scotland and I expect a linguistic revolution to take place in his little world. But let me give you some examples of his vocabulary and grasp of grammar as it stands right now.

Kasper’s vocabulary has become quite extensive with some words which are familiar to him in both languages, and some only in one. Some words he prefers to use in one language – often according to a first-come first-served principle – but knows them in both languages. For example, we will look at a book he associates with me (Polish) and he will name all animals in Polish, but he will call a butterfly ‘a butterfly’ in English. I rarely ever get him to say it in Polish ‘motyl’, as the word he learnt first seems to be more obvious or more readily ‘available’. This works both ways, as there are Polish words that he rarely replaces with English equivalents.

Kasper is clearly aware that some people might prefer one language (word) to the other. He tends to switch to Polish when we talk to my parents on Skype, and to English when we visit his English Nana. The need to be understood is quite paramount. I overheard him once saying to my father ‘Press! Press!’ trying to express how much he wants to press the button to call the lift, and when he could see that grandfather did not understand him – he added ‘Guzik!’ (button). Alles klar.

At the same time, Kasper will quite happily mix both languages making such wonderful utterances as ‘Piesek go jeść’ (doggy go eat), ‘będzie fun’ (it will be fun), ‘Going na basen in the car ala splash.’ (going to the swimming pool in the car to have a splash) and ‘duży castle’ (big castle) or ‘lots of klocków’ (lots of bricks). The amazing thing is that he will (sometimes) decline the Polish words according to the rules of Polish grammar. The example above, ‘lots of klocków’, in Polish would be said ‘dużo klocków’, while ‘klocki’ is the nominative form. Here he uses ‘lots of’ instead of Polish ‘dużo’ but declines the Polish noun correctly. Amazing!

Kasper is clearly picking up some grammar rules in both languages – he will use English plural -s, which sometimes proves tricky when he says ‘sheeps’. Sometimes, the language boundaries can get blurred here too, as when he exclaimed ‘Piękne górys’ (beautiful mountains). The Polish noun ‘góry’ is already plural, but just to be on the safe side Kasper added the English -s to make sure it is definitely so.

While Kasper is only beginning to use full sentences (still relatively simple), his vocabulary is quite rich. He does not shy away from having a try saying such difficult Polish words as ‘dżdżownica’ (worm), ‘gąsienica’ (caterpillar), ‘ośmiornica’ (octopus) or ‘pszczoła’ (bee). Now your turn – have a go!

2 Responses to “Piesek go jeść: Adventures with bilingualism”

  1. Kasia Wawrzon-Stewart Says:

    Hania dzisiaj przy śniadaniu: Jajko! Finished. Nie ma.

  2. Adventures with Bilingualism | Which Word Translations Says:

    […] is now 3,5 years old and his linguistic explorations continue to amaze and entertain us in both languages. I speak mostly Polish to him, while the […]

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