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Language Jealousy

By SammyK on Fri, Sep 19th 08 at 02:06PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

For some reason I'm obsessed with languages. Probably not as much as dancing, but definitely obsessed nonetheless. When I was studying to become a linguist, I learned that children are linguistic geniuses.

<Begin Boring Lecture Snippet> As a child develops cognitively, their minds are very susceptible to linguistic information and they learn language at an amazing rate. After a certain age (usually puberty) the child hits a linguistic wall known to most linguists as "the critical age". At this point in a child's development it becomes much more difficult for a child to acquire language as a native speaker. </End Boring Lecture Snippet>

I was not brought up in a bi-lingual home so I only learned to speak English like a native speaker. Just after I hit the critical age, I started to learn another language (German) and then didn't start learning Spanish until after I was 20 years old. I can speak a lot more Spanish than German, but my German accent is WAY better than my Spanish accent. The older one gets, the harder it is to sound like a native speaker.

Reuben is Mark and Andrea's son who was born in the States but moved to Guatemala with his parents before his first birthday. Now he's five years old and is fluent in Spanish and English. To him, switching between the two languages is like breathing - he doesn't even have to think about it. That makes me jealous.

Yesterday I watched Ruben as he was playing with his toys and I told him that I was jealous of his language skills. He replied with, "I know."

About an hour later we all sat down to eat lunch at the kitchen table. Ruben volunteered to pray. We bowed our heads and Ruben began to pray in English. After saying, "Amen" everyone looked up to see Ruben still bowed. He immediately began the prayer over. This time in Spanish. Everyone quickly bowed their heads again.

At the conclusion of the Spanish prayer, Ruben looked up at me and with a prideful smile said, "Jealous?"


JonSpeirs wrote on September 19th 08 at 02:36PM
Hey man, love the site! Can't wait for the maps and stuff. That trippy song made it onto the first episode! I can never remember what they're called. btw, there's a "so" on the gift page that should be a "do".
jeremy wrote on September 19th 08 at 03:35PM
that is a hilarious story! sounds like Reuben is pretty spunky! tell mark and andrea hello for me!
Scott wrote on September 19th 08 at 03:49PM
I particularly enjoyed the geeky opening and closing tags to your "Lecture Snippet".

You should absorb Reuben into the trip. He sounds like he'd be good in a street fight. ;)
Ryan wrote on September 19th 08 at 05:53PM
That is why Reuben is the greatest kid ever, and it's because he's Mark and Andrea's boy, brilliant!
elclinto wrote on September 19th 08 at 05:56PM
You should take that Ruben kid with you on the rest of the trip as a sort of pocket translator.
bdon wrote on September 19th 08 at 07:24PM
miss you in las vegas...hey were do i get a pair of those underwear, i am sold i am in...

dont eat too many boiled eggs on the trip. k. cliff bars
The incredible story of how two recent college grads are traveling around the world on an impossible budget.
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