Thursday, July 31, 2014

Translating Poetry - harder than it looks

K has been experimenting with translation recently.

I taught her the old rhyme: "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" We were on the way to get ice cream at the time. Once she had memorized it, she said, "I know what it is in Czech. Já křičím, ty křičíš, my všichni křičíme na zmrzlinu. (pause) It doesn't rhyme that way. But I said it right..."

I told her even though she said the words right, they won't rhyme in another language necessarily. She's still wrapping her head around that.

That wasn't the first rhyme she's tried to translate - I've heard her sometimes trying out Czech nursery rhymes or schoolyard chants in English, repeating them over and over trying to get them to flow or rhyme the way they do in Czech. Some efforts are more successful than others.

She's a braver girl than I - I won't touch poetry or song translation with a ten-foot pole!

Monday, July 28, 2014

another bilingual mom

Had a pleasant chat with the check-out lady at the grocery store this evening. She asked me:

"Do you mind if I ask - is your husband a foreigner?"
"Well, I guess so, he's Slovak."
"I see...because I've noticed you speak English with your children in the store."
"Ohh, well, that's because I'm American."

She expressed some surprise at that and then started talking about bilingual parenting and how her kids don't want to speak the family language at home and the difficulties of raising children in a foreign country... She and her husband are both from Uzbekistan, but their children only want to speak Czech. And what can you do when you have to work and they are in after-school care until 5 pm?

Probably the nicest conversation - with the nicest employee - I've ever had in that store.

Friday, July 25, 2014

How do you measure a year?

It may have been a year and a day since I last posted, but I have to say the Slovak has never stopped pestering me given up hope that I would blog again.

Baby M is now a few months older than K was when I started this blog.

M will be three in October and is currently in the throes of his terrible twos. Or is it the rest of us in the throes of his terrible twos? Either way, he has opinions and they are loud and emphatic. He started attending preschool and his Czech has really taken off. He mixes Czech and English like a pro but is pretty good at speaking the right language with the right people. We understand most of what he says, but it takes some context clues and/or guesswork sometimes, like "ha-ha-hik" (based on context - rabbit? No! Králíček? No! Zajačik? Yes!).

M has a passion for animals (especially dinosaurs) and modes of transport (especially cars). He recognizes more or less the entire alphabet (apparently younger children teach themselves this kind of thing) and loves counting. He can count in English (up to 7 or 12, depending on if he stays on track) and in Spanish (up to 6 because of a song he learned). This makes for comic looks of surprise when strangers hear a young (to all appearances Czech) child counting in not one, but two foreign languages!

K has now finished kindergarten and is gearing up for first grade this fall. She switches effortlessly between English and Czech and is getting better at holding conversations in just Slovak as well. She can read in English and Czech, though she still asks me sometimes if people really need to learn to read if they plan on getting a job that doesn't involve reading.

K loves drawing, writing (totally not the same as reading) and has been lobbying hard for her own laptop for some time now. She was apparently so eloquent on the subject one morning on the way to kindergarten with Apo that the other passengers on the bus started laughing. She NEEDS a laptop once she starts first grade, she said. Because education. However, she has gone on record that she would settle for her own iPad if we really won't get her a computer.

We are still reading a chapter or so each night. Recently we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and yesterday we finished the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia. K is a very satisfying audience, because the stories are all new to her and she is shocked, tense, sad or excited at all the right places. She has also been reading Pippi Longstocking in Slovak with Apo on nights when I don't read. Loves that one, too.

So, anything new with you?


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