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November 2, 2007

Satsuki and Mei from My Neighbor Totoro

image credit 

I am raising my children bilingual (Spanish and English), with a little Japanese thrown in there too.  My Peruvian husband and I know some phrases in Japanese because he lived in Japan for 4 years and I lived there for 3 years.  I’ve also studied Japanese in formal classes during a summer trip to Japan and during a semester at Mary Baldwin College.

My husband and I usually speak in Spanish to each other and, during the day when I am home with my children, we mix English and Spanish indiscriminately.  Sometimes I teach my children the Japanese words that I remember: genki, mata-ne, oyasumi, honto-ni . . .

When my daughter was learning to control her bladder (potty training) she would wear a diaper at night and usually wake up dry.  The diaper was just in case.  As I took her dry diaper off in the mornings I would smile and say, “Sugoii-Sugoii!” to her.  I did this over a few weeks and was wondering if she had picked up on the meaning through context.  It means, “Awwww yeah!” and can imply surprise, disbelief or admiration.

I said to her, “Hija, ¿sabes lo que te estoy diciendo?  Estoy hablando en japonés.  ¿Sabes lo que significa sugoii-sugoii?

She replied, “Ummmm . . . ¿pañal seco?”

  1. November 3, 2007 3:52 pm

    How great that you are teaching your kids three languages. I think it’s wonderful to give children all the abilities and skills you can. I have always loved language and someday want to learn several languages. But the time is never there for it.

  2. November 3, 2007 4:11 pm

    FW – That is hilarious!

  3. November 3, 2007 5:08 pm

    I like this one! Although I can’t say that I understand the spanish writing…yet. We have a friend staying with us and working with my husband who is from Mexico and he is teaching us spanish. It is a lot of fun as we learn new things every day. And if I encounter someone now who speaks spanish I can tell them to speak ‘despacio’ and I can get a little of what they say.

    I like the new site!! It is so you!! Hee Hee!! I’m glad you’ve found somewhere you can be yourself and share your personality without worrying about stepping on others toes! Thanks for including a link to my blog, I will add your link to my list!!

    Jena (aka Jypsi)

  4. November 4, 2007 9:20 pm

    I can say (but probably not spell correctly, ack) Konichiwa and Ohayo gozaimas…that’s ’bout it. But I do know how to ask for a cold beer and a bathroom in about 5 other languages…so I’m covered…lol

  5. November 7, 2007 2:50 pm

    WC, thanks for coming over and commenting. You are welcome here anytime. My children appreciate knowing two (and parts of a third )languages. My daughter is a little “sobrada” about it though (smarty-pants, know-it-all) so I am dealing with that aspect.

    Princess, I’m glad you got the joke. I wasn’t sure if I should translate the joke, or just let it be. 😛

    Jena, I’m so happy you’re here! I hope you will try my recipes if they look good to you. How exciting to have a Mexican houseguest willing to teach you Spanish and explore food!

    Mrs, you are covered! In Japanese those words are easy because they are just borrowed from English. Beer = Biii-ru and Toilet = Toi-re (toy-ray) You did spell those Japanese words correctly, just add a silent “u” to the end of gozaimasu. 🙂

  6. rosiemolinary permalink
    February 4, 2008 5:46 pm

    That is such great deductive reasoning on her part. I love the way a child’s mind works. They just zoom right in.

  7. February 4, 2008 5:59 pm

    My mother spoke only Portugese until the age of five when she entered school.
    Now she knows very little. i think that is sad.

    i wish we could’ve known the language.
    i think it is wonderful that your children are multi-lingual.

  8. February 4, 2008 8:40 pm

    In this every globalizing world, you’re doing your kids more good than you know 🙂

  9. February 5, 2008 7:44 am

    Rosie, yes it was great reasoning on her part and I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was wrong. Now we laugh about it.

    christine, I love Portuguese. Two of my in-laws are Brazilian and I picked up a little of it when I was around them in Japan. It always sounds like singing with the melodious ups and downs. It is sad when people aren’t able to pass down their language to the next generation. I know what you mean.

    M. Wade Nichols, I hope they’ll take advantage of knowing English and Spanish and help make the world a better place for those they interact with.

  10. February 5, 2008 10:04 am

    I agree with Nichols, we should all, at the least be bilingual! Your kids are way ahead of the game!

  11. John permalink
    March 18, 2008 5:13 pm

    hehe… I know Portuguese, Spanish, English and a few words of Japanese 😀

    I’m supposed to know French as well, but I’ve forgotten most of it After I stopped taking classes (also because I can’t stand the sound of spoken French XS).

    btw, if you tried to teach her ‘oishii’, would she get it as… ‘postre’? (or maybe ‘dulce’ or ‘sabroso’)

  12. March 18, 2008 8:39 pm

    John, that’s excellent that you are familiar with so many beautiful languages. We translate ‘oishii’ as ‘que rico’ or ‘que delicioso’ because those are more common expressions in Peru. I know it varies from country to country. We have a toy vending machine that dispenses little canned drinks and says, “Oishiisooooo!” so our children have always been curious about that word’s meaning. Thanks for commenting!

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