Friday, 24 August 2007

Mommy, mama, mamou

After spending 3 weeks with my parents, we were all impressed with how much Suzanne was saying in English. Suzanne was saying about 5 new words a day, all in English. And she even started calling me Mommy.

I decided before she was born that I wanted to be Mommy partly because I think it's cute and partly because it is purely American. And I am, well, American. It makes the distinction between a French mama and an American mommy. So it was nice coming back from work during the 2nd week my mother was here when Suzanne came racing to the door screaming mommeeeeeeee!

Suzanne has been back at the nanny's for less than a week now and she's already slipping back into French. It's obvious that she understands almost everything in both French and English, but she is clearly favoring French. It's interesting and exciting to see how quickly she adapts to situations and that she has already deciphered which language to use and with whom. But it's sad for mommy to see that English takes a back seat to French most of the time.

I was speaking to a bilingual friend about how she was raised and she told me that hated how strict her parents were about not mixing languages when she was a kid but she thanks them now. So, I guess I just need to muddle through even if she resists. So say mommy damn it!

Suzanne also seems to be creating words, finding a middle ground between the French and the English. She said chaT, half way between the American cat and the French chat. And then there's mamou which seems to be just in the middle of the French maman and the American mommy. I'm still hopeful that she'll come back to mommy since she seems to be testing her words a lot at the moment, for instance saying cat when she wants a rabbit or making the sign for food when she wants more (she's started learning some sign language - more on that another time).

The really great news is that having my parents here gave us a real chance to test Suzanne's bilingualism. We regularly asked her something in French followed by English and she was able to respond in both. There are obviously some differences in vocabulary in each language, but she understands commands, random objects, tons of animals, body parts...she's just so intelligent!

For anyone interested, here is a list that we prepared for the nanny of Suzanne's English words and her prononciation:

Suzanne's word English word

do
Toe
doki
Duckie
babel
Apple
ba
Bear
ka
Car
ba
Bike
bouk
Book
ba
Bath
chatte
Cat
babel
Bottle
baba
Baby
mami
Mommy
do
Shoe
mmm
Cow
iih (with raised arm)
Elephant
ih ah
Horse
ih ah
Donkey
iah
Cat
ouh ouh
Dog
ka ka
Bird
ouuuuh
Wolf
ou ou ou
Seal
puckers

Fish
baba
Bubble
Pop
Pop
Ba
Block
ne ne
Knock knock
Mo
More
scrunches nose
Rabbit
Ha
Hi
Waa
Hello
Ooo (hits chest)
Gorilla
abou
Boom
Ba ba
Bang bang
Wawa
Water
Gouki
Cookie
Dis / zis
This
Bib
Bib
tcoutchou
Train
Peppa
Pepper
ou ou ou
Monkey

4 comments:

wcs said...

I just love how ba-ba and wawa are right next to each other in the list. Did you do that on purpose ? Nah, you're probably too young. ;)

Ba-ba Wawa here with this weeport on the weal dangers of fwying.

I miss Gilda Radner.

Reb said...

Aw, she was great. I loved Roseanne Rosanna Dana.

Sarah said...

Her animals are adorable--love the gorilla and elephant! (That must be delightful to watch.) Thanks for sharing this list. Any chance we could see a list of her words in French? (There's probably too many to list at this point, though, if she can do this much in English already!)

Sarah said...

Oh, I was also going to tell you about my nephew's use of Mommy vs. Maman. She's "Mommy" almost all the time, but when I'm around, she's "Maman" more often. He'll refer to her as "Maman" and even occasionally call her "Maman"! I suspect this is because I've refered to her as "Maman" consistently when speaking French to him. It just feels strange to say "Mommy travaille" when he calls out for her when she's working. And as he says her name a lot when she's not around, he hears me say "Maman" quite a bit. I like Suzanne's "Mamou," though--it's like a special name between a bilingual kid and her bilingual mom. Is your husband "Papa" or "Daddy"? How do you refer to him in front of her?

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