A'udhu billahi mina sh-shaytaanir-rajeem! Bismillah...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bi-lingual chaos...

Did you know- Learning a second language can actually boost up our brain power. Read the story here.
What's the exciting part of being in a bi-lingual surrounding? According to me - the code mixing and code switching in the usual conversations. It's more fun if you are in a bi-lingual household where a toddler or pre-schooler growing into two/multiple languages.

Code mixing and switching is very much seen in Indian households. Back in Kerala, though we speak only Malayalam at home, our grannies were very talented in singing arabic poems mixed with Malayalam. Moving onto metros, I have seen people widely switching between languages especially where Hindi talking folks were present. The talent lies in tactically switching and mixing languages.

The main difference between Indian languages and English is in 'sentence structure'. While it doesn't affect adults in understanding the 'structure', it brings forth a lot chaos in little babblers. Most Indian languages are in SUBJECT + OBJECT + VERB structure while ENGLISH follows SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT structure.

This drives Liya literally mad. Though, she speaks fairly good English with a decent American accent, many times her grammar is a mess.

So, what's so confusing to her- the sentence structure and hence she reverses many sentences. She learned Malayalam much before she learned English (and we talk Malayalam at home). So, at times she tries to put in English sentences in Malayalam structure...:)

The Chaos...
  • I have jacket it in pocket. ==> I have pocket in my jacket.
  • Pappa is hairing his comb. ==> Pappa is combing his hair.
  • I want glass in juice. ==> I want juice in glass.
  • Pappa's zebra on head.  ==> Zebra is on Pappa's head.
  • Momma, I'll feed you ==> Momma you feed me.  
  • Using He or She and She for He
 Do you live in a bi/multilingual house hold? What's the most exciting part of it?


  1. I love to learn new things and this was definitely interesting to know. I know they say it is easier for children to learn multiple languages when they are young, but I'm sure it has to be confusing for them sometimes. Thank you for your post!

  2. It might be driving her mad now, but being bi-lingual is something she'll appreciate later in life.

  3. She might not like it now, but when she is older and knows 2 languages she will thank you for it. We are doing the samething in our household, my hubbie self taught himself spanish, so he is slowly teaching it to the kids, and its wonderful to watch.

  4. When I was learning American Sign Language, or ASL, in high school, it was hard to use ASL structure (object + subject + verb) when signing. Instead, I'd use English structure. I still do it when I sign in my head. However, I think it's better than the dreaded Signed Exact English, or SEE (ASL doesn't add endings like "ing" and "ed" but SEE does. Not necessary for signs).

  5. I think it is so wonderful when kids grow up in a bilingual household. She's a lucky girl but I can imagine the sentence structure is easy to confuse no matter how old you are.

  6. I am sure growing up with this would be easier than learning as an adult. It does sound a lot like ASL.

  7. One of my little students has the same problem- she autoamtically changes the places of the object and the verb since this is the practice in her native language, but she is making a huge progress recently and I am rather proud of her ingenuity.


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