Sunday, December 09, 2007

On learning the language of your partner ...

For those of you wondering why Gert doesn't just knuckle down and immerse me in Nederlands ... here's a quote from Eat Pray Love by Elizabether Gilbert.

Quoted because it is so true in many cases. She's talking of an Italian/American couple:

In case you're wondering why he couldn't just study English with his American-born wife, it's because they're married and they fight too much whenever one tries to teach anything to the other one.

Gert corrects about 80% of anything I attempt to say in Nederlands.
I 'love' being corrected like a 3 year old, which granted, is often about where my pronunciation level is located. One has to be fairly correct with pronunciation, unlike in English. Terrible mistakes can be spoken in Nederlands ... Turkish too actually. I'm a creature of terrible linguistic mistakes.

Sometimes, just to watch his hackles go up, I correct his English - it's rare that it's required, and when it is, it isn't appreciated ... unappreciated to the point where I fall about laughing over his reaction.

Belgians are probably the proudest mult-lingual people I've met but yes, they usually have reason to be.

Actually we've argued about my English a couple of times ... his pride knows no bounds. He was correct once. It was terrible.
Picaresque versus picturesque dammit.

11 comments:

Mark J said...

So funny :)
Thanks for making me laugh again :D

Manictastic said...

Oh Di! Once you'll be able to speak Dutch at the level of a four-year old, just keep practising. I do think pronunciation tends to be important in all langueges of the world, even in English because believe me, you do not want to say "Whore is the money?" :D

Claudia said...

MUAHAHAHAHA! I don't know Di., I think if it wasn't the language thing, it would be something else. A bit of nettle in a relationship is required to keep things spicy. Better to argue about how to say something, than say, a Mistress. ;)

I learned French when I lived in Belgium. I could never, ever get the hang of Flemish. It made me giggle too much. But, then again, that could have been the hashish. ;)

I know. I owe YOU an e-mail now. I'm working on it, moving blogs sucked the life out of me. It's hard work you know.

V-Grrrl said...

There's a reason long-married couples, even those who presumably speak the same language, often live separate lives. They make it past the 20, 30, and 40 year marks in marriage by agreeing there are some things they can't do together. Being at year 26 myself, I'm a bit concerned how long the list of "things we can't do together" has grown...

Pam said...

I have a ton to say about this and all of it makes me look like a monster.

Settling for this:

Ah, the joys of a multilingual relationship!

Di Mackey said...

A pleasure, Mark :) Although you do realise that you're enjoying my suffering?????

Oh Manic ... ! You know, if you really cross-examined Gert, you might discover that he's not sure he wants me fluent, he just hasn't thought it through.

For example, while out the conversation around the table turned to the ratio of immigrant children in schools ... Gert knew he wouldn't enjoy this immigrant creature being fluent in Dutch which was the language of dinner.

You can't quite do to English what you can do to Dutch, with a slip of the tongue though.

I guess that might be true Claudia. YES YES YES, Flemish makes me giggle too, I feel like I'm mocking when really it's just correct pronunciation ... meanwhile I'm cursed by the fact that I come from a very mocking society. I giggle without the hashish :)

Moving blogs, ahhh yes - I did that a couple of years ago. Good luck.

The institution of marriage ... Okay, so I'll be grateful for this whole language thing then V.

Pam, we will spend time together again one day then we can speak our truths because I know what you mean and you know what I mean and we're not monsters.

Have you made any headway on getting cold things into the freezer less quickly now that you living back home?

Ah the joys, hey and loving your blog about writing your book!!!

furiousBall said...

If you ever need to feel better about your Dutch, I can record myself attempting it.

Peter said...

I once had a friend who claimed correcting my English "was an act of pure kindness".

Fortunately we weren't married ;-)

My brother married a non-native who spoke English as well. He never corrected her Dutch pronunciation, leaving her with a "what did she say?" accent that leaves most of us clueless. We've grown to accept her accent, but when I really need to be very sure about a message, I just repeat it in English.

When I was young, having to study 5 languages (Dutch, French, English, German and Latin) was just a chore, a burdensome task that often left me with a "this is way too much work" feeling.

Latin faded completely, with German becoming a degraded "at least I won't get lost at the Cologne Christmas market" language.

Languages stopped being an issue in my small world, but I can image it can be both amusing, challenging or frustrating when one's partner has to learn a whole new language.

Di Mackey said...

Yes well, Gert insists correction is crucial in learning to speak Nederlands properly but when I correct his English ... ohmygoodness, does he get cross. It's amusing, and fortunate I can tease him about his linguistic arrogance, otherwise I might have to throw plates and tantrums ;)

Manictastic said...

I don't consider correcting someone's language is very helpful. Parents don't correct the agrammatical language their kids use, the kids just learn on their own the right way to speak. You will learn Dutch on your own time and your own pace, pushing you too hard to a level you can't handle yet, would ruin more than help. You just have to start building up your Dutch together with Sahara, maybe you can move a little faster, but certainly in the beginning phase, that's about as quick as you can manage.

Di Mackey said...

I have lots of kids books and I read the newspapers and subtitles on movies but I only speak what I can say well ...and even then, that often earns a 'wablief?' lol - oh the NZ twist on things.

Jessie starts language classes in January, Sahara is already saying 'voor mij' and 'nay' so I think a time of immersion is coming at home in 2008 ;)