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A recent jaw-dropping event prompts me to continue the story of my son’s adventures with bilingualism.

SCENE 1

We are spending a week and a half in Poland visiting my family. My son is now 11 months and practises his syllables such as ma-ma-ma-ma, or da-da-da-da (translates to Polish as ta-ta-ta-ta) etc. He hasn’t yet uttered anything more complex that would resemble a word, although babbling is very much on full blast.

We are enjoying some tea in my parents’ living-room with the baby playing on the floor when my parents’ cat decides to run across the room and into the hall.

Me (in Polish): Kasper, where is the cat (“kotek”) gone? Where is the cat gone?
Kasper (looking up from his building blocks and following the cat with his eyes): ko-tek
Me, Dad, Mum (jaws on the floor): ????
Dad: Did you all hear that??! This boy is a genius!

END OF SCENE

Genius or not, it was certainly amazing to hear the little boy repeat a word the meaning of which he clearly understands. Hearing the word “kotek” prompts his eyes to wonder to the cat’s usual hanging out spots – the radiator or the top of the cupboard. His pronouncing of the word must have been a bit of a fluke, but not coincidental.

A friend of mine who is raising a child bilingually in German and English said her daughter’s first word was ‘Katze’! Is this yet another proof of cats’ magical powers or some puzzling trigger in linguistic development of bilingual children?

Are there any parents out there with some interesting bilingualism stories to share? Please write in comments.

Kofi, my parents' cat, likes to keep an eye on everybody.

Kofi, my parents' cat, likes to keep an eye on everybody.