Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Learn to Speak Chinese

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a terrible Chinese speaker. In fact, my mother is fond of telling other people that, of her four daughters, my Mandarin is the worst.

I was raised in a home where Chinese, Taiwanese, and English were spoken interchangeably. Through a combination of rebellion, shame at being different, and laziness, I wound up speaking English and only retained a smattering of Chinese. The latter comes out very mangled with bad syntax and an occasional Southern accent slipping in. Craig claims he can speak better Chinese than I.

Like it or not, I have raised Andrew to speak English. He knows bits and pieces of domestic Chinese - "time to eat," "brush your teeth." However, teaching him Chinese was a very conscious effort on my part that seldom seemed to happen. What a loss.

On the other hand, with William, I find myself speaking about 70% Chinese and 30% English. What little Chinese I've retained has mostly sufficed. After all, I don't need to - I can't - converse about politics with an 8 month-old child. Our conversations mostly run the range of "Let's go downstairs," "Put your arm into your jacket," or "Did you make a poop? I can smell something."

Because William hails from a solely Chinese-speaking environment, I'm hoping that hearing Chinese from me will make his transition easier. Oddly enough, there is not much of a conscious effort this time around; most of the words just slip out. Sometimes they're mispronounced, but at least it's something.


Sarah said...

Your lil' buckeroo looks less red and itchy today. Yay! Can you say "howdy," William?

Daisy said...

Super cute pictures!

so that was you talking to him in the last video? I wasn't sure.

Paul and Heather said...

What a cutey!!! That is awesome that the Chinese is just "happening" for you this time around. I am sure it is easing little William's transition. Hope to see you soon.

occupation: mommy said...

What a gift to William that you can ease his transition in this way!

Oaktree said...

I came across your blog through a friend of a friend's blog and have enjoyed reading about your adoption of William. He's a beautiful baby. I just had to comment on this post b/c I'm half Korean and also did not learn the language like I wish I had. I can speak here and there but nothing very good. I try to speak to my son some but still not as often as I would like. I wanted to praise you for your efforts with William and think it's such a blessing that you are able to speak the language he first heard. Best of luck to you and your family!

Mom to Nick - almost 3
(I have a blog on here but somewhat private - if you ever want to see it, email me and I'll send you the link - dwaiss@gwu.edu) :)