Worried about kids picking up bad grammer from Caribbean husband - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 03-18-2009, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband uses his Trinidadian slang and bad grammer all the time around the house, and I constantly have to remind him that our baby on the way is going to be picking that up. I do not want our (future) children to appear uneducated because of the way they talk. Although I do beleive that it's important for the baby on the way to learn their culture and heritage.

How have any of you resolved this problem?

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#2 of 22 Old 03-18-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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What about you? How do you speak? I think if the kids are regularly exposed to proper grammar they will know it as well, and should easily make the switch on demand. I know a very large Ethiopian family and when they speak English to each other it's this crazy English that I can only get a few words of... but they all speak "proper" ??? English as well, whatever that means. Make sure they get a good dose of both and it should be ok. When they get old enough make sure they know that impressions are made by speaking a certain way, and then they can choose which way to speak. At least that is my own opinion.............................. My own kids speak two languages, the country that we're living in and their father's language, and English - my language. I speak only E. to them but everyone else speaks German. From a very young age they've been fine with the transition, and only mix things up when they're very tired, or don't know a word in one language that they know in another.
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#3 of 22 Old 03-18-2009, 06:27 PM
 
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If you speak one way and your DH speaks another way (which I think you could argue is his dialect rather than "bad grammar"?), then your child will probably become quite adept at code switching, very similar in the way that bilingual children do.
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#4 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 02:00 AM
 
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I agree that your child will more likely be bilingual in his Trinidadian dialect and standard American English and there's nothing wrong with that. It would be unnatural and difficult for baby's father to speak in any other way. Plenty of Irish-American, British-American, African-French, etc. etc. children do just fine using two dialects. I know a woman who speaks three dialects of Arabic: the one of her mother, the one of her father, and the one of the country where she was raised. No biggy.

I also would say that in my opinion, there are MANY legitimate dialects of English and I think it is important to recognize all of them. Diminishing your husband's language is really not fair to your future child.

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#5 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 06:13 AM
 
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My dh is Ethiopian and English grammar is difficult for him (it's completely reversed from his language's grammar). I have actually picked up some of his phrases and ways of speaking, partly because he understands better.

Our children are 6,4, and 2 and they speak properly. In fact, they sometimes correct *us*. Dear old Thomas the tank engine has helped with that. My 4 yo speaks like an old fashioned English schoolboy sometimes.

I really wouldn't get after your husband about this. One, Carribean dialects are *beautiful* and it wouldn't be a bad thing for your child to learn that side of his heritage. And two, whatever language your child is immersed in, he won't have any trouble differentiating between "proper English" and Trinidadian dialict. As someone else said, it will be similar to any other bilingual household. Children are very smart, and especially when exposed to different languages, they learn.
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#6 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 08:06 AM
 
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I wouldn't worry about it too much. My family is Jamaican and growing up, I heard proper English, as well as patois in the house. Just as with anything else, you learn when is and is not appropriate to use.

I was aware that my mom may speak one way around the family and another way at the doctor's office and I followed suit.

My dd, now 5, knows that sometimes Grandma speaks "Jamaican" and sometimes she speaks "American." LOL

Your child will learn to differentiate too and definitely hold her own when she is with her Trini peeps!

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#7 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 10:13 AM
 
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I have the opposite problem. DH is Jamaican but speaks "proper English" all the time. I WISH he spoke the patois so the kids would learn that as well. The only time I heard him speak that way was when we were in Jamaica, lol. But as for your situation, I agree with the others, and you shouldnt worry about this at all.
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#8 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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It would be a shame for your child to miss out on the richness of your DH's cultural expression.

They'll hear plenty of "proper" English and will easily distinguish between the two. They'll also understand with amazing insight when and in which situations to use each one. Think of it as allowing them to learn two different languages.

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#9 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 02:12 PM
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I also would say that in my opinion, there are MANY legitimate dialects of English and I think it is important to recognize all of them. Diminishing your husband's language is really not fair to your future child.
This exactly. I think the mentality that your dh is just using "bad grammar" or not speaking English "correctly" is the more harmful thing, to be honest.

Variation is not inherently wrong. Nonstandard is not substandard. There are SO many ways to speak English and they are all legitimate and they all have value. Is American English inherently inferior to British English? Of course not. And yet it is really just a colonial dialect

However, I understand your concern that your child be proficient in standard American English, as that is the dialect which they will need to perform well in school and to be perceived as "educated speakers" (why am I having Pygmalion flashbacks ). But there is simply NO evidence that knowledge of and proficiency in one dialect will hinder or prevent proficiency in the other. In fact, MANY native speakers of English codeswitch all the time and even at an early age become very adept at it. I will say for myself that the way I speak when I teach is quite a bit different than the way I speak when I'm hanging out with my friends--granted, not a exactly dialectical difference, but a register difference and that is something along the same lines. In addition, I have AA students who, in class and on papers, write in perfect standard American English. I have seen them with their friends in the hallway as they slip seemlessly into AAVE (which is quite a bit different from standard American English). They are absolutely fluent in both and to be honest it is quite fascinating to observe (at this point you might have guessed that I'm a linguist ). And BOTH English variants are legimate forms of communication.

People (even young children) are able to guage which social situation calls for which dialect or register. And speakers proficient in more than one dialect can move through multiple worlds. And that, in my opinion, is something to be envied, not prevented

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#10 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 02:38 PM
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Here's something interesting:

http://www.hawaii.edu/satocenter/pac...blications.htm

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#11 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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I am not from a multi cultural family exactly but I was lurking and thinking about our family situation. My MIL is from out east in Canada and they speak differently from the way we do.
To me it makes them sound very uneducated. For an example she will say
" Jane learned me how to drive" intead of "Jane taught me how to drive"
There are many more examples but this is the one that comes to mind.
My Dh has of course picked up on this and it drive me crazy to no end sometimes. Your children will learn both and you just have to take it for what it is. It isn't fair to take apart what is a part of your DH because you don't like it. I hope that sounds ok as I didn't want it to sound offensive.

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#12 of 22 Old 03-19-2009, 06:10 PM
 
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Ouch maybe I'm a little too sensitive, but English is not my mother tongue so I know is far from perfect, but I would be really hurt is my DH told me not to speak bad English in front of the kids.

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#13 of 22 Old 03-22-2009, 02:07 AM
 
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I could have written your post I am American and my husband is Belizean, so he speaks Creole and "The Queens English" lol... the only difference is that BOTH of us slip in and out of creole and proper english, as I spent a lot of time living in Belize and it comes naturally to me... but just as I can make the switch in and out of Creole, I think my baby will be able to as well... it is interesting to note, however, that my husbands grandfather ONLY spoke "proper" english to his children, because he believed Creole would harm their opportunities, particularly with jobs and school, btu everyone is fine I was really worried about this at first, but we plan to read a lot of books to our baby and he will also be speaking proper english in school...basically, he will be around proper english majority of the time, so I doubt the creole for us or you will affect your child that much...and you know what? they need to know it if you ever expect them to understand their Trinidadian family! lol...
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#14 of 22 Old 03-22-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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If you speak proper English then your kids should pick it up also. I know how it is, DH is from trinidad and I am from the Virgin Islands, but his grammar is better than mine. I do worry about it at times. It would be hard for your DH to transform to 'proper english'. I try but forget alot of times as I have to think and talk slow when it comes to speaking 'proper'.
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#15 of 22 Old 03-23-2009, 11:58 PM
 
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i agree with the others who are saying that this is also like being bilingual. as a black woman, i have to be able to converse with some of my neighbors who do not speak the king's english and when i am at work, it is a different thing. so, it is like having the best of both worlds because, to be honest, i am thankful when i go home at night and can talk to my folk the way that i am accustomed. it switches on and off, so don't worry.

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#16 of 22 Old 03-24-2009, 01:17 AM
 
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Forgive mistakes finger typing on iphone


Speaking trini is not bad. Are you saying ur dh cant speak proper english?????
I KNOW he can...as habit all caribbean qpeople will speak home ways around people from home and english around foreners... They do it from when they are small. They learn to read and write english but can also do the same for their own dielect.... In no way shape or from will you child carry a title of being stupid. Actually they will be brighter cause they can seperate the 2 ways of speaking
I am white & canadian raised here by white parents lol. I speak "english" i was raised speaking it. The only one i knew.
I can speak patois which is jamaican. If i choose to speak it on the phone everyone wouldnt beleive i am white and canadian.I can go between the two. My kids understand both no big deal my dd6 knows how to speak proper and how she can use wording with carabean people. It is not just bad english it is different wording, use of words and meanings. There is also words in patois that is not english. My ds will learn how to do this he is not even 2.5y. I speak one or the other or a mix of both to them. Forgot to add my kids are mixed with jamaican.



Dont worry your children will be smart and accepted in both worlds
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#17 of 22 Old 03-24-2009, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraN View Post
It would be a shame for your child to miss out on the richness of your DH's cultural expression.

They'll hear plenty of "proper" English and will easily distinguish between the two. They'll also understand with amazing insight when and in which situations to use each one. Think of it as allowing them to learn two different languages.
:

My MIL grew up in Jamaica and switches automatically when talking to relatives in the Caribbean.

Multilingual kids learn to switch back and forth automatically, depending on circumstance. Your child will figure it out.

professor & maman de DS1 (6) & DS2 (1)

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#18 of 22 Old 03-24-2009, 08:04 PM
 
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i find when people speak a foreign language they use such lyrical poetic terms. for instance doesnt 'i am a lover of pizza' sound much better than 'i love pizza'.

i am on the other spectrum. i come from asia, the remains of the british education system and private english immersion school. so the question i keep getting asked all teh time is 'how do i speak such good english.' if you really want to talk correct english then they dont really speak that here v. much at all. nor is the correct form written in blogs. but to each his own.

i am with all teh pp. dont worry about it.

if anything look at the 'black' language around you. AND you'd be surprised how much slang is used there.

one of the things i get told is - not for us - but in general - how well behaved 'immigrant' children are. so dont worry about your children appearing uneducated. by the time they would be called uneducated - they would be in school anyways. and at preschool age people are more impressed with how the children behave as opposed to what they say.

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#19 of 22 Old 03-24-2009, 09:48 PM
 
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I think it's fine for them to see that in the Islands, a different kind of English (sometimes called Pigeon) is used a lot. It's not the same as American English, or Australian English. This is part of THEIR heritage, although it's not part of yours, so it might be hard for you to hear them speak it a bit. Don't worry, they'll talk like their friends, more than their parents. For better and for worse!

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#20 of 22 Old 03-24-2009, 09:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post
i find when people speak a foreign language they use such lyrical poetic terms. for instance doesnt 'i am a lover of pizza' sound much better than 'i love pizza'.

i am on the other spectrum. i come from asia, the remains of the british education system and private english immersion school. so the question i keep getting asked all teh time is 'how do i speak such good english.' if you really want to talk correct english then they dont really speak that here v. much at all. nor is the correct form written in blogs. but to each his own.

i am with all teh pp. dont worry about it.

if anything look at the 'black' language around you. AND you'd be surprised how much slang is used there.

one of the things i get told is - not for us - but in general - how well behaved 'immigrant' children are. so dont worry about your children appearing uneducated. by the time they would be called uneducated - they would be in school anyways. and at preschool age people are more impressed with how the children behave as opposed to what they say.
That "slang" you mentioned in your post that black people speak is actually considered a language or dialect and its called ebonics. I grew up speaking both, I was able to go in between both languages at home, school or whatever the environment it just depended on who I was talking to. My mother spoke both and she taught us that people will not accept the way we talk when we are comfortable so make sure you speak the kings language. We knew who to do it around and who not to, its a learned behavior IMO. Maybe take it as your kids learning another language
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#21 of 22 Old 03-25-2009, 04:48 PM
 
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I see no harm in being culturally aware of both types of speech. Just use the speech that is appropriate in each situation....kids pick up on it quite easily. My kids speak "ebonics" and proper English.....
They are also expected to learn spanish to get along with their other associates...both proper and casual spanish.....the idea is to no offend anyone by being patronizing or inappropriate in certain circumstances.





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#22 of 22 Old 03-28-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry about it. As many others have said, children figure it out. My DH is a Trinbagonian and easily switches back and forth. The funniest is when my family--from new orleans--asks me to translate what he's saying because his English for speaking to foreigners (non-Caribbean people) is so proper.

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