My Brood/四人家族

There are four confused language speakers in my family.

Me: I’ve already given my short bio in the beginning, so I won’t bore with another.  One thing to add is that I suck at learning languages.  In 6th grade, I was required to take French when my English was still at an off-the-boat-level.  Well, it showed. My French grade dragged at the bottom of the class throughout high school and I dare not mention I even studied it. You’d think going through years of English boot camp would prepare me to learn a new language.  It did not.
Now, I’m very sheepishly attempting to learn Mandarin and it’s just as sad as when I was in French class. Yes, I should put more effort into using it and expose myself to more Mandarin since it’s available.  I realized I try to learn a language in the worst way possible.  I look at the characters (since Chinese and Japanese share a lot of characters), match the pronunciation, and make flash cards.  Oh, it’s bad.  I am that example of a Japanese middle school student.  I know what I’m doing is wrong, but I don’t know how to amend and do it right.  Well, if I make any progress on this depressing endeavor, I will update.
My English: “Native”, or what I call bitching level.  When you can bitch about your work/life effectively with a group of people and blend in at a bar, you’re fluent.  Some professional level speech, some cursing, some slang, all fused into smooth conversation.  You’re a native and not a business speaker.
My Japanese: I’m still trying to determine where it is.  In conventional terms, I’m a “Native Speaker.”  I’ve worked for a bit in a Japanese business environment, I can read a newspaper, I can have casual and loud conversations with a group of mommies at lunch.  I find my Japanese writing  to be either too formal or too casual, but not quite as frank as my English.  I haven’t found my “voice” when writing in Japanese.  I don’t have that problem with English. I’m a sarcastic, unorganized writer, as I am in person. I’m finding it hard to portray that persona in Japanese. It’s easier for me to hide behind the formality of Japanese writing.
So I don’t know where that stands. Is it the Japanese language that forces me to write in such a manner? Maybe.

Marc: He gets the best hubby and daddy award. He only speaks English fluently, but has some working knowledge of Japanese, French and Latin, in that order. I’m not sure if you can even have a “working knowledge” of Latin, but fair to say he studied some and enjoyed it. He has a knack for learning languages unlike me.

Nina: My almost-3-year-old, still in her semi-demonic stage, but other than the occasional exorcism moment, she’s a good kid. She’s sensitive, sweet, shy, funny and loud all at the same time. She goes to a day care with a bilingual (English and Mandarin) education program full day, 5 days a week and LOVES it. Even asks about her “school” when we are on vacation. We try to do the bilingual household thing where I speak mostly in Japanese and my husband speaks ‘American’ English. But since he understands some Japanese, he reads her books in Japanese. I’m used to using English and I often to end up slipping back into it even when speaking with her, but I’m working on that.
Nina’s English=Singlish. I don’t know if that’s the politically correct term, but her accent is definitely not American, and sometimes, she’s got that “la” thing on the back of her sentences. Her English is generally good. Grammar is still developing, but that’s age appropriate.
Nina’s Mandarin: Mystery. She understands, but doesn’t speak much. When she’s on the spot, apparently she does say something, but it’s limited and we don’t quite know where it’s headed. She was like that a few months ago with Japanese, but she has more exposure during the day to Mandarin, so we’ll see what she picks up. The challenge is also that I don’t quite recognize Chinese coming from her since I’m unfamiliar with it myself. She has also already decided that I’m not a Chinese speaker and adamantly refuses to speak Chinese with me, even if I try.
Nina’s Japanese: Starting to flourish. It helps that my friend introduced me to a really cool program called Douwakan. A children’s book shop owner and some of his associates have devoted time to selecting age appropriate books for children and they can send up to 3 books a month addressed to your child. It’s a bit pricey from abroad (Non-Japan), but I like the books they deliver and Nina looks forward to receiving her monthly gift. I firmly believe that the only reason I was able to keep up my Japanese was because I read a lot of Japanese books growing up, so early exposures to good books for the children is extremely important to me. She has an accent of some sort, can’t quite pinpoint which one it is, between the American and Filipino Japanese accent we have in the house, she’s a bit confused. Both my husband and our helper speak some levels of Japanese and they often speak it with her. I think she’s on the right track, she recognizes those that are Japanese speakers and gravitates towards them.
Nina’s 4th language: Gobbledygook. Nina has another language she speaks or yells, when she’s hyper. Probably a kid thing, but figured I’d include it. Maybe it’s her partial Mandarin, she’s happy when we repeat it, whatever it is.

Mila: She’s our baby. I go easy on her. Not to worry Nina, that will change. She’s just started to walk and she’s facing the challenges of life (i.e. her older sister) and thriving every day. She’s starting to respond to several languages and we are excited to see how her linguistic skills develop.

うちの家族は四人。
:最初にもショートバイオは書いたし、これからもネタ出るし。一つ特筆するとすれば、私は実は語学を勉強するのがすっごい苦手。英語もけちょんけちょんだった6年生から高校卒業までフランス語のクラスを必須科目で取ったんだけど(後でスペイン語にしておけば良かったと後悔)、成績は酷いもんだった。クラスでも恐らく最下位だったと思う。恥ずかしくて勉強したとも言えません。英語は必然的に出来るようになったけど、私は基本言語はぜんっぜんダメ。
今、折角シンガポールにいるし、と臆病ながら中国語(マンダリン)の勉強をぼっちぼっちやっておりますが。努力も足りないけど、びびりで使う事もできず。漢字にたよってフラッシュカードとか作っちゃって、もう日本の中学生並にダメな方面へ突っ走り。分かってるのに、はまってしまっている悲しい現状。現状打破出来たらまた書きます。スミマセン
英語:これはもう一言で言うとネイティブスピーカー。私風に言うと、Bitching Level。つまり仕事・普段の文句をうるっさいバーとかで、愚痴って普通にブレンド出来るレベル。専門職語とグチと普段のだらだらを完全にミックスして喋れる事が条件。ビジネスだけの会話以外でも何でも違和感なくふるまえるレベル。書いていても、違和感なく、TPOに合わせられる。
日本語:一応ネイティブスピーカー。日系の会社で仕事もしていたし、新聞もある程度は読めるし、ママ友とも違和感なくきゃいきゃい喋れるレベルで、喋る分には大丈夫。書くのも仕事風に堅く書くならまあ、大抵の事は大丈夫。ただうまーく、丁度いい崩し、が出来ない。キャラを上手く書くうえでつくれない、というか。英語の方はキャラ立ちしていると思うんだけど、日本語だと何となく微妙な別人感がある。それが私の日本語の甘さなのか、それとも日本語で考えてると、そうなるのか、がこれからのテーマなのかも。

マーク:一般的なアメリカ人、パパと旦那としては超一流。英語はもちろんアメリカンイングリッシュ。しかも文法に細かい。日本語、フランス語、ラテン語、をその順番にある程度話す。(ラテン語は話す言語じゃないけど)

新菜(にいな):長女。三歳になる生意気盛り。たまに大暴れする以外はいい子。以外と繊細でシャイな娘。声が大きいので、一度慣れるとガンガンな感じだけど。普段は週五日のバイリンガル(英語とマンダリン)のデイケアに通っている。うちではママが日本語、パパが英語って事にしようとしてるけど、二人とも結構いい加減。ママがついつい英語に戻っちゃうのが悪いです。

英語:=シングリッシュ。生粋のシンガポールアクセントと文章の終わりに~Laが着いたりと、完璧にシンガポール人。文法は最近ついてきた感じ、これからどうなるんでしょう。

中国語(マンダリン):謎。言われたことはわかっているみたいでピンポイントで訊かれれば答えるけど、まだまだ発展中。数か月前の日本語と同じレベル。これからどうなるかな。でも私も正直分からない。しかも私のおそらく酷いマンダリンで話しかけても無反応。傷つくわぁ。

日本語:この数か月で超発展。童話館という素晴らしいNGOを教えて貰ってからの上達はびっくりしました。子供の年齢に合わせた本を子供の本のプロが選んで月に3冊まで子供宛に送ってくれるプログラムです。海外からだと高いけど、本のクオリティの高さにも満足してるし、何よりも新菜が毎月自分宛に来る本を楽しみにしているのが私もうれしい。童話館の本は何度も読んで、お気に入り。わたし自身今でも日本語を喋れる理由は本を読んだということで、どこの学校に行くにせよ、本さえ読んでいれば言語はキープ出来ると信じているのでこれはとても嬉しい。でもネイティブの発音ではなくて、微妙に違った発音でしゃべるのよね。マークもヘルパーさんもカタコト日本語がなまじ出来るので、ちょっと変わった発音になってるんだけど、正しい方向には向かってるし、これからどうなるかが楽しみ。他の日本語を喋っている子供をみると最近よっていくのがなんか微笑ましい。

新菜語:疲れて、またはハイになると突如出てくるわけの分からない語、時に悲鳴。子供には普通なのか、それともこの状況からのエスケープなのかはまだ謎。でも一緒にやると喜ぶ。

実良(みら):我が家のベビー。ママは末っ子に甘し。新菜安心して、そろそろ赤ちゃんではなくなるから状況も変わるわ。歩き始めたばかりでこれからの成長も楽しみ。日本語と英語の言葉に反応するようになって来ていて、これからどう言語に対応していくのかが楽しみ。

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