on languages lost

Flynn understood French before he understood English. By the time we left Cotonou, when he was just over two, he was speaking about equal amounts in each language. But fast forward six months, and now he’s speaking paragraphs in English, yet when we try to read him bedtime stories in French he tells us to “stop talking silly.”

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Bedtime books, iPad edition.

Sigh.

Sometimes we wish the timing were different, that we had been in Benin when he was one to three rather than zero to two. Or that we were going to a Francophone post next so he could maintain and build upon his skills. Or that it had been practical to bring his wonderful Francophone nanny back to the U.S. with us.

But alas, a Francophone Flynn was just not to be. At least not now.

I’m still convinced that he would pick up French fairly easily if he were to study it later in life. And that his early exposure to multiple languages stretched his brain in such a way that he will more easily learn any second language in the future.

For now, though, French has left at least one undeniable impact on Flynn’s linguistic skills. He seems to have retained the French “liaison,” which links the ends of certain words to the beginnings of the next words. For instance, he doesn’t say, “it all,” but instead, “i-t’all.”

It’s just a small thing, but it’s a fun reminder every day of where we’ve been.

I can’t wait to see how small things from all the different places we will serve throughout his childhood combine to influence the little person he will become.

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One Response to on languages lost

  1. Natasha says:

    But you’ll have a Hispanophone Flynn soon! (I wasn’t sure whether there was an equivalent word like Francophone meaning “Spanish-speaking,” but Wikipedia says yes.)

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