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We’ve really been enjoying reading about everyone’s experiences of studying foreign languages and/or learning them through immersion abroad. But what about languages that we acquire as children? We realised that this is a topic that hasn’t been talked about much on the forum, and so this month we’d be curious to learn whether anyone grew up speaking additional languages through their family or community environment, and also whether anyone has raised bilingual (or multilingual) children and what that experience has been like.  

We know that family and childhood are quite personal topics so it’s fine to just share general ideas if you don’t want to reveal too much about your own circumstances. Additionally, you don’t have to come from a multilingual family background to add to the discussion – we're really happy to hear what everyone has to say on the topic, and we’re looking forward to reading all of your thoughts. Keep them coming!

47 comments

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    Katrina Paterson

    Tere hommikust!

    I'm sorry for disappearing for a while! blandine.baudot, I had to smile at your comment at about to Ikea for kanelbullar. Who hasn't had a go at the Swedish food market while picking up flat-pack furniture? Incidentally, if any of you ever come to Belfast, I highly recommend the Ikea here - the bus ride itself is a scenic route through the docks, and Ikea is right by George Best City Airport, meaning you can get amazing views of the planes (when they're flying, in these curious pandemic times). 

    Not being a French speaker, I tried translating 'bouchon d'oreille'! I understood that 'oreille' normally means 'ear', but 'bouchon' was throwing up everything from 'stopper' to 'log jam'! (Google Translate - I confess....)

    The video that you linked to is really interesting - you're right that even without understanding the voiceover, it's easy to appreciate the links between words in Basque and various other languages. I particularly liked carotte / zanahoria / zain horia - so interesting to think that this could be the reason that 'carrot' in Spanish is so different from in French and in English. And in general, surely 'zanahoria' has to be one of the best words ever? 

    Since it's 31 December 2021 today, I'll also take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year! Let's hope 2022 brings good and exciting things for all of us :D

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    gunnarbu

    Happy New Year to Katrina and all my fellow translators! Another thing that the next generation of language learners must follow is the steadily increasing number of new words to relate to. In Norway the Norwegian Language Council every year selects the 'New word of the year', and last year it was of course 'korona'. For 2021 it is 'sportsvasking' (Sportswashing). I must admit that I was not very familiar with this word - if the same goes for you - look it up!

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    Katrina Paterson

    Sportswashing - that's amazing, and it's an interesting word choice because I hadn't heard the expression either, in any language, but within one line of the Wikipedia definition, I instantly understood what it refers to. And yes, that's quite a topical one!

    It's great to hear when other languages have 'words of the year'. In English there are predictably loads of these (as chosen by dictionaries, publishing houses, and so on). Oxford University Press has a Hindi word of the year, but it would be amazing to find out what other countries/languages have chosen, and to see whether the meaning of the words coincides. 

    Happy new year to you, Gunnar, and to all translators! Let's hope that 2022 will be a year that brings us all a positive 'word' :D

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    pilvenhattara

    @gunnarbu

    I've long wondered how to pronounce Olsen. Is it o- or u-? I know that it's an u- in Olsson, but I don't think I've ever heard Olsen in Norsk. My listening practice has been limited mainly to Klartale.

    And Onnellista uutta vuotta/Head uut aastat/Gleðilegt nýtt ár/Керлачу шарца! to everyone!

    And I invite those game for a linguistic challenge to attend an online course in East Caucasian languages (in English)—the second cycle has just come to end.

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    gunnarbu

    Hi @pilvenhattara,

    Very good question. Most non-Norwegian (or non-Swedish) persons, specially English speaking people, struggle with pronouncing 'Olsen' the right way, because they are so hung up in that an 'o' is pronounced like 'oh'. 'Olsen' is pronounced with a very short pure 'o'-sound, no 'ou', 'å', 'au' or 'oh'. (I tried to google 'how' to pronounce Olsen' on the net, but many of those sound files do not get it right.) 'Olsson', which is Swedish, has the same short, pure 'o' in the beginning, but the second 'o' is pronounced a bit differently, more like 'å'. 'Å' is more like the 'a' in conservative UK English for the word 'all'. 

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    pilvenhattara

    Tusen takk!

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    blandine.baudot
    Happy New Year everyone!
    Sportswashing! This is telling... 
    170 new words in the 2022 edition of Larousse dictionary. 
    "I had never seen such a linguistic change. It reminds me of what happened during the French Revolution: an upheaval, the appearance of new words and meanings, and above all a collective appropriation of the language," comments Bernard Cerquiglini, professor of linguistics and scientific advisor to the Petit Larousse."
    Among new entries, unsurprisingly: « asymptomatique », « cluster », « hydroalcoolique », « nasopharyngé », « quatorzaine », « réa » and... « télétravailler ».
    More here
    P.S. special Katrina: for this cinnamon "bouchon", we would use "plug" 
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    gunnarbu

    Hello all. Interesting that cinnamon rolls/kanelbullar should become such a hot topic! I can even add to that, because this is in fact the signature food of my home town, Bergen, and here we call it 'skillingsboller', because in the old days they cost 1 shilling! (Google it and choose images). Talking about new words, this is one of many examples of old words that remain as they were, even if the original meaning (1 shilling) is no longer valid.

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    Katrina Paterson

    Ooh, those skillingsboller look really tasty! 

    Gunnar, that reminds me of a similar story from England, where we call those ice cream cones with the chocolate flake stuck into the ice cream '99s'. I always assumed that it was due to the fact that, back in the day, they cost 99 pence apiece, though I guess that with inflation, they're probably a lot more expensive now. But, when I looked it up just now, I found that there are apparently a lot of different stories as to how the name emerged, one of which being that in the old days, most ice cream sellers were Italian, and they chose the number 99 in homage to the fact that the King of Italy would have 99 elite bodyguards, meaning that anything associated with the number 99 was good. 

    It sounds a bit fanciful, so I'm still slightly more inclined to believe the 99 pence story, but there's more on all of this here. We also used to talk about 'penny sweets' in the time of my childhood, but I guess that even loose sweets are probably more expensive than that, now. 

    Those are some fascinating words in the Le Monde article, blandine.baudot, and as with the YouTube video slides about Basque, I think we can all appreciate them even if we don't know French. Has 'mocktail' really joined the French lexicon? That's quite incredible. Following one of the links in your Le Monde article, I found this other one here which has a list of no less than 410 words that have appeared in French since 2017; very interesting indeed! I guess the coronavirus crisis has added a lot of new words to other languages, too, or given new meanings to existing words...

    Thanks also for the explanation about bouchon/plug! :D

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    pilvenhattara

    Speaking of rolls, there is also a semla and the sad story of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden.

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    gunnarbu

    In Norway we have our version of what I believe you call 'king cone ice cream'. This used to cost 1 krone for many years, until 1970, and was for that reason called 'krone-is', and this name has stuck with us ever since, even though some say it is still relevant in a slightly different meaning - as the top of this ice cream resembles a crown. (krone=crown).

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    Katrina Paterson

    Semla, looks tasty! That's sad news about King Adolf Frederick indeed, but I guess that the lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, and smoked herring would probably have finished him off, even if the cake hadn't! What an unusual way to go, though. 

    Yes, I recognise the krone-is-type ice creams! There's actually an official 'branded' version which is known in the UK as 'Cornetto', so maybe there's some 'crown' etymology there, too. The company that makes the 'Cornetto' version of the ice cream is called Wall's in the UK, but it has other names elsewhere (like 'Algida' across much of the European continent, perhaps because a lot of countries don't commonly use the letter 'W'; who knows?)

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    blandine.baudot

    Katrina, you wouldn't find any "mocktail" in everyday conversation. This is fancy magazines and net reviews vocabulary. Or else you would use it when you want to sound both ironic and "branché."
    I would have some reservations on hetvägg for dessert, as History proves it. Probably best "en solo," in winter, around five, after a serious hike. Let's stick to our Zain Horia (for our Basque revision). Much healthier.
    These sweet tales mingled with money reminds me of a grocery where you could buy tiny square fudge candies for 1 centime when I was a child. This coin seems as outdated as the rouelle (a coin your ancestors might have known Katrina) to me. We forget fast. Now centimes are for sale on eBay, with prices ranging from 20 to... 1200 euros!
    PS. This flakes Cadbury thing makes me want to take the Eurostar. Back in the no-so-old days, we had a real big Marks & Spencer in Paris. Alas, they bid farewell. Sob.

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    Katrina Paterson

    I didn't know you were a Cadbury fan! Very nice! Marks and Spencer is waiting for you next time you make it over here : )

    I'm intrigued by this one-centime thing, now! As someone from a non-Euro (and sadly now non-EU) country, I've always wondered whether one-centime Euro coins still exist, and if so, are they accepted? I remember trying to use them in the Netherlands in 2017, and they told me that apparently they weren't then accepting anything less than a five-cent coin. Around a similar time, though, I had also been in Malta, and I think that they did accept them there. Those were in the good old days of travel. 

    At the same time, I feel that even cash itself is becoming something of a rarity these days. I've been in Belfast since January 2021, and I have to admit that I'm still not 100% sure what the banknotes look like here. In Northern Ireland, they spend in pounds, as in my home country of England, but the notes have a different design, or so I'm told.

    Also, for those who are interested in the Euro, I found an interesting article here which includes information on countries which are not in the EU but which do have the Euro, such as Montenegro and Kosovo.

    For me, hetvägg would be a morning food! Interesting - but I like the idea of eating it after a hike; that sounds very tasty.

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    gunnarbu

    With the risk of turning this into a pastries discussion :-) In Norway we typically only eat fastelavensboller (hetvägg) once a year - at the celebration of fastelaven: Wikipedia explains it like this: "In Denmark and Norway a popular baked good associated with Fastelavn is the fastelavnsbolle (lit. "Fastelavn bun", also known in English as "Shrovetide bun" or "Lenten bun"), a round sweet roll of various sorts usually covered with icing and sometimes filled with a whipped cream mix or pastry cream.[5] In most bakeries they are up for sale throughout the whole month of February. Similar buns are eaten in other Northern European countries, for example the Swedish Semla." See the whole article about fastelaven here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastelavn

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    pilvenhattara

    I guess an après-hike repast calls for something more filling. How about some pärämäç patties? (A step-by-step video can be seen here.) My maternal grandma was the best at making them, and she made some when I turned 25. … Less than three weeks later, she was gone.

    Tatari Chaihana in Tallinn also has them on offer. If I remember right, they were quite insistent that the location be on Tatari tänav (street).

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    blandine.baudot

    Hello Katrina, I didn't grow up with Euro money! I was talking about one-cent Franc coins :)

    In French, but with an image, should you want to see how it looked like:

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi%C3%A8ce_de_1_centime_%C3%A9pi

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