Polyglot Genesis

The Cub language-switched for the first time today.

He speaks English to everyone but me who speaks to him in Afrikaans only. Not because I believe Afrikaans will be particularly useful to him here where we are outside of South Africa, but because I believe the ability to speak a second language will wire his brain for learning other languages that would be.

We still have some Christmas cake about the house in a tin we got from his grandma. It’s not in plain sight, so he might only see it when I’m carrying him through the kitchen and he happens to glance in the right direction at the right time.

The English word “cake” is a homonym for the Afrikaans word “kyk”, which means “look” in English. So, if he says “kyk” to me, I look around and ask “what are we looking at?”. It won’t result in anything edible. However, if he says the same word to his mum, he might well score something to eat, if it’s the right place and time.

Yesterday he was in the kitchen and it suddenly struck him that there’s still some cake left somewhere. He turned to his mum and said “Cake, cake!” and then immediately turned to me and said “Koek, koek!”, the Afrikaans word for cake.

The novelty and elation of him achieving that milestone unlocked a slice of cake/koek for him, of course.

It also marked the first time he deliberately switched languages like that. He’s been very chatty and amazes us daily with his vocabulary, but increasingly also his ever more complex sentence structures in both English and Afrikaans.

I can’t wait for the why/hoekom start.

Published by Yaku

Yaku is a brewer, baker, and semi-retired trouble maker (semi-retired from trouble-making that is). Although he believes anything is possible, he is nevertheless frequently stupefied by his world and the people in it.

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