It is hard to believe that we’ve been living in Spain for almost four years now- two years in Madrid and now two years in Barcelona. For me, the very best part of it all is giving Nico and Luca the chance to acquire new languages. Of course, since their father is a native Spanish speaker, they would most likely grow up at least understanding the language fairly well. However, up until the time we moved to Spain, Nico had always responded to everything in English and I think that probably would have continued if we hadn’t come to live here. Now he is completely fluent in both Spanish and Catalan. It’s incredible to me how he can just switch from one to another, depending on which parent or friend he’s talking to and he very rarely confused the languages. What he does do is take expressions from one and then translate them into another which can often be quite funny, especially when he had the original expression wrong in the first place. For example, apparently his teacher often tells them to grabar (tape record) something in their heads when she doesn’t want them to forget. As luck would have it, the word in Spanish for staple (grapar) sounds quite similar to grabar which means that Nico is convinced that she is telling them to not to tape something in their heads, but to staple it in their heads. This means that when he really doesn’t want me to forget something he is likely to exclaim in English, “Mommy, this is very important! STAPLE it in your head please!” I actually quite like the expression. Other translations don’t work as well. “Oh Mommy what a good paint those strawberries have!” for example, is something that sounds much better in Spanish than it does in English. I never correct him though since the older he gets, the less often it happens and it makes me realize he’s growing up. Only last month he finally figured out that “riving room” is actually pronounced “living room” and that the things at the top of our arms are “shoulders” rather than “soldiers.”
With Luca, the language thing can be a bit more complicated. He isn’t nearly as verbal as Nico was at the same age and although he is talking more and more, his pronunciation is usually pretty off. Also, when Nico was two, his primary language was definitely English while with Luca, his words are much more evenly distributed between English, Spanish and Catalan. This means that not only do we have to decipher what word he is saying, but also what language he is speaking in the first place. Plate is dato (plato in Spanish), apple is poma (Catalan), bib is pitet (also Catalan), shoes are patos (zapatos in Spanish), look is gook, socks are gocks and so on. When saying words in English, he definitely favors a hard G which means he calls himself “Guca” and his brother is “Geeko.” A sentence might be something like “No dato Geeko! No Gookie! Mio! Geeko! GEEKO! Gookie mio! Mama EP ME!” One who is in the know would translate this to mean “Nico, stop touching my plate Nico! That cookie is mine! Mama help me!” You can see how it would get confusing at times but hopefully he’ll get it all straightened out eventually.