Words that don't exist in your minority language? - Mothering Forums
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 13 Old 05-22-2010, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
mambera's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,308
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Background: We're doing OPOL with our eleven-month-old DD. Since we speak different minority languages, we speak the majority language (English) with each other and we each speak our own minority language to DD. So far she says about ten recognizable words, evenly mixed between English, Greek, and Hindi.

I have run into a few words that just don't exist in Greek as far as I know. Eg "blueberries." (DD loves blueberries.) I've never seen them growing wild or for sale in Greece and as far as I know we haven't got a word for them. I even checked an English-Greek dictionary and found there was no entry for blueberries.

So I guess my only option is to just use the English word. Now here's my question: Should I switch up my accent when I throw an English word into my Greek?

If I were to keep wearing my 'greek hat' the word would come out really different (something like 'mblou-mberriez,' lol). I feel silly pronouncing it that way when I'm perfectly capable of pronouncing it the correct way with my standard American accent. OTOH it also feels really funny to drop my Greek accent for one word and then pick it back up again for the next word. (I actually have to pause a little bit before and after the word to 'switch modes.')

Is it going to make a difference either way for DD's learning?

Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.

Vaccines save lives.

mambera is offline  
#2 of 13 Old 05-22-2010, 10:08 PM
 
Tynka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Myrtle beach, SC
Posts: 14
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Yassou mambera
We are in a very similar situation, the minority languages being Greek and Lithuanian, and the majority language English. We also come across some words that don't have an equivalent in one or the other language (for example, there is no such thing as baby shower in LT and idk if there is in GR). But we have never really put much thought into the accent thing.... Now that you said that... Hmmm... I guess we pronounce the word the way it's supposed to be pronounced in the original language (but sometimes have to change it's ending etc), or we just make up a new word ourselves, or sometimes just describe whatever we are talking about in other words somehow. It kinda sucks though...
Tynka is offline  
#3 of 13 Old 05-23-2010, 01:23 PM
 
Lula's Mom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Roswell, GA
Posts: 4,728
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
This is a little different but maybe applicable- my husband is from Puerto Rico. Of course they speak Spanish there, but some of the words they commonly use are English words, spoken with an accent to match the rest of the Spanish. I know I've heard him say "el truck", rolling the R and all. I think I would put the Greek spin on blueberries when speaking Greek. I'm sure your dd will pick up that they are the same as just plain 'blueberries' when she hears you refer to them in English.

~*Kristi*~
Tallulah Dare 8-01,  Marcos Gael 12-04, Cormac Mateo 9-09, Leonidas Ronan 11-11

Lula's Mom is offline  
#4 of 13 Old 05-23-2010, 11:23 PM
~pi
 
~pi's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,773
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Food is (IME) one of the toughest areas of vocab to translate. There are plenty of foods that just don't have names in other languages because they don't exist in that culture. Blueberries are one of them. In the past, I have called them berries blue (most languages have words for berry and blue.)

I find that there are a lot of words that don't translate perfectly. I just use the closest possible expression, and leave it at that.

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

~pi is offline  
#5 of 13 Old 05-24-2010, 09:48 AM
 
lolar2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 6,584
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Google Translate claims that blueberries are bakkivia in Greek. FWIW.
lolar2 is offline  
#6 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 03:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
mambera's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,308
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Thanks for all the input everybody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lula's Mom
some of the words they commonly use are English words, spoken with an accent to match the rest of the Spanish.
Yes, I've heard this a lot in Spanish and it's done a fair bit in Greek as well. I rather dislike it though, I prefer to use the appropriate word when it exists. In particular, it seems like a bad precedent to set when trying to teach a minority language to a child.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2
Google Translate claims that blueberries are bakkivia in Greek. FWIW.
That is interesting, I googled around and found some Greek articles about the health effects of blueberries that use that word so it seems like it might be right. Thanks! (Interestingly if you put the singular 'blueberry' into Google Translate you get 'myrtilos' which is not right, that's a different kind of berry IIRC. But I digress.)

So I guess for this particular word I will just start saying vakkinia. I'm sure this issue will come up again though. I'm leaning toward using the Greek accent in such cases even though it feels silly. I guess I'll play it by ear.

Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.

Vaccines save lives.

mambera is offline  
#7 of 13 Old 05-28-2010, 01:31 AM
~pi
 
~pi's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,773
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post
Interestingly if you put the singular 'blueberry' into Google Translate you get 'myrtilos' which is not right, that's a different kind of berry IIRC.
The only thing I've seen like blueberries in France are myrtilles. If I hadn't questioned why they aren't called bleuets (as they are in Canada), I never would have known that apparently they are slightly different berries. They tasted just like blueberries to me.

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

~pi is offline  
#8 of 13 Old 05-28-2010, 02:52 AM
 
Curious's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Somewhere in Time
Posts: 1,772
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We are native English speakers but as a family, we are studying the language of my family. We are all learning together and I am the most fluent, then Dd, then Dh.

I try to use the other language as much as possible, but sometimes I just need an English word. I use the accent of the other language, use their version of the or this as it applies, and if I need to pluralize, I use the foreign way of doing do.

It enables us to maintain a conversation without deteriorating into English. Dd is progressing well and doesn't have any problems mistaking these for real words. Mostly it gets laughs.
Curious is offline  
#9 of 13 Old 05-28-2010, 11:04 PM
 
La Sombra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: USA, for now
Posts: 728
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My uneducated opinion on this would be that if for you, as a bilingual parent, it feels silly to pronounce the word "blueberry" with a Greek accent, then don't do it! I can't see how this or other situations like it will really make that big a difference in the long run. The point is the word doesn't seem to really exist in Greek (or does it? ) and your dd will therefore most likely only encounter it in an English-speaking context anyway. And she'll always be able to explain what a blueberry is to her Greek relatives/friends if she needed to.

OTOH, I notice sometimes when I'm speaking Spanish with DP that I'll be sort of in a Spanish flow and even if I say an English word it will come out with a Spanish accent, even though I'm not a native Spanish speaker! (And sometimes in those cases I, too, feel a bit silly and will sometimes even correct myself!)

I also wanted to note, somewhat peripherally, that the use of words like "el truk" in Spanish are préstamos--legitimate examples of words from one language (in this case English) being "borrowed" and incorporated into the other language--and in cases like this it's not necessarily that an equivalent word doesn't exist in the other language (and in the case of "el truk" it's certainly not the case--el camión), but sometimes simply that whatever the word was originally in the one language gets displaced by a word from another language (which happens for a variety of, often rather obvious, reasons--but that's another topic altogether!). But with "blueberries"--and like a PP pointed out, a lot of food words or other sort of culturally or regionally-specific words, the word simply doesn't exist because the CONCEPT or THING itself doesn't exist. So that presents a sort of unique situation to people like the OP!

And then this is really tangential but, OP, your question just makes me realize how incredibly rich and infinitely complicated human language is--and how the reality is that languages are not always systems of equivalent ideas and concepts but that so often languages reflect fundamental differences in the VERY WAYS THAT WE THINK. Which is why knowing more than one language, IMO, is such a beautiful and amazing thing. It's like literally learning another way of seeing the world!!!

Mama to a beautiful girl since May 2007 and a beautiful boy since August 2010! :
La Sombra is offline  
#10 of 13 Old 05-29-2010, 08:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
mambera's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,308
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by La Sombra View Post
I also wanted to note, somewhat peripherally, that the use of words like "el truk" in Spanish are préstamos--legitimate examples of words from one language (in this case English) being "borrowed" and incorporated into the other language--and in cases like this it's not necessarily that an equivalent word doesn't exist in the other language (and in the case of "el truk" it's certainly not the case--el camión), but sometimes simply that whatever the word was originally in the one language gets displaced by a word from another language (which happens for a variety of, often rather obvious, reasons--but that's another topic altogether!).
This doesn't bug you, aesthetically I mean?

Why say 'el truk' when you could say 'el camion'? Why say 'el lonche' when you could say 'el almuerzo'? Why say 'to kompiouter' when you could say 'o ypologisths';

I would be lying if I said I didn't do a lot of Gringlish. When I was a kid my family used a ridiculous blend of Greek and English most of the time. A lot of it was done in a joking way. But we spent a lot of time in Greece and we knew which language was which.

My DD is in a really different situation. Only one of her parents speaks Greek. We are going to have to split her vacation time between Greece and India - and India is a *long* trip. Honestly I think we will be lucky if she achieves understanding and some very basic speech in Greek. I'm pretty much her source. I feel a need to keep it consistent, kwim?

Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.

Vaccines save lives.

mambera is offline  
#11 of 13 Old 06-03-2010, 03:20 AM
 
MultiLingMom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
What a great question!! I was thinking about what I do with my accent when saying a word from the other language and realize that I do use the proper accent. Especially since down the road that word will most likely be used in it's native language and might as well have the pronunciation correct.

I find that I often translate a lot of things from English into German - like "fruit leather" I say "Obst Leder" with my kids which many of my bilingual friends don't do and even think is a bad idea since they think it is important that their children can use the right words for things like that when visiting friends. But I don't do it with everything. Hmmm, I'm going to be thinking about this more.

Cheers,
Corey (from Multilingual Living)
MultiLingMom is offline  
#12 of 13 Old 06-04-2010, 01:47 AM
 
peaceful_mama's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: #12 Grimmauld Place
Posts: 4,941
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
this is reminding me how i can understand the gist of DH's conversations in Arabic if I pay attention, because of the number of words that they seem to just use the English word for. Brand names for example are obvious. But also computer, cell phone...can't think of other examples right now.
We've had several instances like the other day--DH is on the phone trying to figure out how to spell a brand name of something to his friend, entirely Arabic conversation. I'm in the kitchen cooking, can hear this, and know him well enough to know that I'm about to be asked how to spell it. So I just started spelling, Totally not the first time I have answered to an Arabic conversation in English. I don't speak it, but if I try sometimes I can answer, (seriously, I said "Hello, how are you, I'm good" to DH's brother on the phone one time and that pretty much sums up my entire speaking ability!)

I WISH I could get DH more on board with ANY sort of teaching. I keep hoping my tiny bits and hearing the kids pick up will encourage him...like *I* taught our 18 mo. old this weekend to greet "salaam alaikum" He's TOTALLY adorable and you can actually understand it! I keep telling him they DON"T MIX THIS UP. You would think he would realize that from all the other kids he knows. I've totally seen kids as young as 5 able to translate between an English speaking teacher and non-Eng. speaking parent--FLUENTLY, it's a beautiful thing to hear.

lovin DH since 1/04, SAHM to 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), and one 13 wk (10/13) just your average :ha ng multigenerational living family!!
peaceful_mama is offline  
#13 of 13 Old 06-06-2010, 09:58 AM
 
Eclipsepearl's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 458
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My kids are fluent and trilingual.

There are very few words that don't have a translation BUT there are tons of times that there are two words in one language and only one in the other. Since English has more vocabulary, often I have to supply a different word for the context but there are opposite exceptions, like "hair" used for both on the head and body (different in French).

I have more problems with specialized vocabulary. I didn't ride horses so I didn't know what the padded thing is under the saddle. My two girls are in rhythmic gymnastics, which is not common in the U.S. so I didn't know what the "elements" were. I called the rope a cord and had no idea what the clubs were. I had to look them up on the net!

Interesting story; I thought that cranberries were "airelles". They look the same. I was in a grocery store and a woman overheard me and corrected me. "It's 'cranberre' in French" she told me (in French) and then explained that cranberries are bigger and more sour. Dumb North American who doesn't know her own native fruit lol!

I'm more confused than the kids. I actually don't know what some of the lettuces are in English and think I'd look silly asking for Mesculan in a store. I can honestly point out every single one of them in a French grocery store and in English, beyond Iceberg and Romain, I'm lost...
Eclipsepearl is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off