Bilingualism à la Justin Trudeau

I don’t know if many people visited Trudeau’s Web site during the last election campaign, but he posted a series of videos in Frenglish in which he switched from one language to the other constantly, often in the middle of a sentence. He claimed that this would make them understandable for both French and English viewers, and I suspect he was hoping to make each half of the country more open to the other, but the reality is, his videos were just unbearable for both! You pretty much had to be bilingual (and used to switching language all the time) to manage to follow him.

My son, who is now starting to make longer sentences, vaguely reminds me of this bad experience, but he has the excuse of being only 21 months old! It is extremely funny to hear. From what I have read, kids raised in bilingual households don’t actually confuse the two languages: they know very well which is which, they just borrow words or expressions to the two languages because they don’t have enough to express themselves properly in just one.

For instance, this morning he woke up a bit distressed at the thought that he had slept without his (stuffed) dog. When I said that yes, the dog had been left downstairs, he replied “Maman downstairs cherche (go get) dog”. Then after breakfast, when I was changing his diaper and putting clothes on him, he exclaimed “Maman go c’est l’heure du (it’s time for) work?” I was impressed, as he didn’t ask me if I had to go to work yesterday or Saturday, only Monday morning.

Anyway, I know that his language skills are more than on track for his age and I have absolutely no fear that he will eventually manage to make complete sentences in each language separately, but in the meantime being bilingual certainly helps when it comes to understanding him. It keeps you on your toes when you have not only to understand his (sometimes) poor pronunciation, but also figure out in which language the word or expression is.

Good luck to my family when we go visit!

5 Responses to “Bilingualism à la Justin Trudeau”

  1. Docteur Maman Says:

    Je suis quite certaine qu’on va manage très well. ;o)

  2. Danielle Says:

    Ca me rappelle les enfants d’Anne, il y a quelques années, qui faisaient ça avec le français et l’espagnol!!

  3. Sophie Says:

    Je vois que tu t’exerces déjà, Docteur Maman! En tout cas j’ai bien hâte de vous voir…

  4. Anne Says:

    En fait, Danielle se rappelle mal puisque mon fils n’a jamais fait ça. Dès qu’il s’est mis à parler, il a parlé très distinctement les deux langues et fait des phrases complètes compréhensibles par tous très rapidement. Mais, car il y a un mais (sinon vous penseriez que je me souviens avec les yeux du coeur, euh, est-ce que ça a du sens?), il a dit son tout tout premier mot à 19 mois. Jusque là, il ne disait ni maman, ni papa, ni rien. Il doit donc avoir des enfants comme ton fils qui foncent dans le tas, et d’autres comme le mien qui attendent d’être sûrs de leur coup. Gabrielle empruntait quelques mots à l’espagnol parfois, du genre “j’vais eater une banane”, mais c’était seulement pour quelques mots et vraiment utilisés en français, jamais autant que ton fils, qui doit être très drôle.

    Mais peut-être Danielle nous donnera-t-elle quelques exemples prouvant que j’ai tort.

  5. Sophie Says:

    Je crois que c’est à ma mère que je disais, en fin de semaine, qu’au fond mon fils dit sans doute autant de mots français que bien des enfants de son âge au Québec… C’est juste qu’il en dit encore plus en anglais!