Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Or I could speak German to Amy

Today, I had the day off and went with Stella to pick Amy up from kindergarten.

Virginia talked to use while we were waiting a bit in the kindergarten till it was time to go to catch our bus, and she asked whether I spoke only English with Amy, and I said I did. She said I could probably also speak German to her now, and that that wouldn't confuse her any more.

The second part is probably true, but I don't see why I should start speaking (also) German to her... it might possibly draw less attention to ourselves in the odd occasion in public[*], but I think that speaking English is an important part of the relationship we have. Not to mention that speaking German to her feels distinctly odd to me.

As we left, I asked Amy:

— Should I speak English or German to you? Or both
— (thinks for a second) Hm, both.
— Soll ich mit dir deutsch sprechen?
— (pauses, clearly taken aback) You spoke to me in German.
— Was that funny?
— Yes.
— It felt funny to me, too.

Which, I think, puts that question to rest: having me speak German to Amy feels strange not only to me but also to her. So I'll stay with English, thankyouverymuch.

[*] That reminds me of coming home from work on Wednesday. On the bus, a lady got on with a pram; she took out a child and sat down next to me.

When the child started fussing, she asked him in German what was up and what he wanted, but as he got fussier, she drew him closer and talked more softly, in what seemed to me to be Russian.

Later, she'd occasionally say something in German, more loudly, but she spoke mostly in Russian, softly.

It seemed to me that she wanted to be seen to be speaking only German in public, but that she wanted to have recourse to her main language in really intimate moments such as calming down a fussy infant.

It made me wonder why she didn't talk to him in Russian all the time? Was she ashamed of speaking Russian? Was she embarrassed to be speaking a foreign language in public? Did she think it inappropriate or impolite to speak a language most others couldn't hear?

And it made me glad again that Amy has lots of exposure to German (not least through Amy), so that I don't have to worry about my use of English making it harder for Amy to acquire German (which it might if both of us spoke only English to her).

Tags: amy
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