Bi-lingual kids say the darnest things…

One of the very fun things about raising bilingual kids is watching how they learn and make sense of the languages that surround them. I speak German with the kids (which was a bit of a transition for me to switch to speaking German (my native language) after having lived in the English-speaking world for many years and only speaking, thinking, and dreaming in English for so long) and John mainly speaks in English (he will slip in a few German phrases every now and then, especially those containing the word nein (no) as it apparently sounds a bit more powerful in German than in English!).

Living in Austria now is, of course, great for all of us and has been wonderful for the kids’ language development. Right now, their German is a bit superior to their English (not surprising considering we’re in a German-speaking country) but they communicate at ease with friends and family in both languages (and 99.5% of the time, they don’t mix up the languages).

But every now and then, we have to smile at the things that come out of their little mouths. So here’s a quick run-down of entertaining quotes from the kids as they try to express themselves. Yes, some of the humor is a bit hard to understand if you don’t speak German as they do many literal translations, so not everything might be laugh out loud funny for everyone!

  • Car snake [Autoschlange; traffic jam – literally translated; this was a recurring “Denglish” word from Luca in Sao Paulo]
  • Why then? [Warum denn? But why?]
  • Hand shoes [Handschuhe; gloves]
  • That’s really funny Jules….or? [Das ist lustig Jules, oder?]
  • Mom, this is so heavy [Das ist so schwer; meaning to say this is very difficult]
  • Jules was that [Jules war’s; it was Jules]
  • Was ist das für? [What’s that for?]
  • I like this not [I don’t like this]

And, then aside from dealing with the bi-lingual challenges and fun moments, the kids are slowly beginning to make sense that they are living in a global world. We are a family of map-people, meaning we like maps and talking about geography since it’s such a big part of our life. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that recently, Luca asked in all seriousness: “Mom, what country does Winnie the Pooh live in? North America or Europe?”

Yes, that’s the joy of raising global bilingual kids!


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