Achtung Baby Or Friends Germans Countrymen...

13/08/2010 14:08 | Updated 22 May 2015

Any regular readers to my blog may be aware that, in my experience, bringing up a child bi-bilingually can present a parent with some challenges. It is often frustrating, occasionally inspiring and frequently amusing. I'm getting used to the roller coaster of emotions it kicks up but I wasn't at all prepared for what Finje had in her bag of tricks this week.

You know those two-year-old prodigies who can play Paganini on the violin whilst whistling God Save the Queen and tap dancing with Michael Flatley? Well, that's all very scary impressive but I'd lay a bet on them not being able to speak Shakespeare.

Not like my daughter.

Oh no.

The first thing you need to know is that the Northern German dialect lends itself somewhat to a touch of The Bard in that when expressing the negative, they often ditch the obvious and universally known "nein" for the rather softer "nay".

Secondly, the use of do not or don't in denoting a negative ie: I don't play violin or tap dance, is not a part of the German language. This can cause some problems for Germans new to English and often entertainment for those teaching it. On more than one occasion I had to stifle a guffaw on hearing such sentence construction as "It worksn't".

Finje, slowly coming to terms with the fact that German and English are in fact two separate languages is still endeavoring to tell them apart.

Having fidgeted with a not insubstantial scab on her knee just long enough to pick some of it off and cause the inevitable trickle of blood, I asked her if she would like a plaster to stem the flow. This was the answer I received, from which I am still reeling:

"Oh nay mama, I think I need it not. A plaster works not as well as fresh air and spit!"

Lo and forsooth, methinks that infant yonder is beholdeth of the gift of The Bard.


Achtung Baby
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