‘Am I OK with my son oinking in Swedish?’

Keith Moore is bringing up their Swedish-born son to be bilingual — but the language barrier in the farmyard is one he wasn’t prepared with regard to.

In times of triumph plus tragedy it’s always a good idea to turn to your own oldest friends.

It was only right, then, that the couple of weeks after my first kid was born I introduced him in order to someone who taught me a lot.

I’m talking about that jovial farmer who still resides at the back of my brain, Old MacDonald.

You know: “Old MacDonald a new farm, E-I-E-I-O. ” That Older MacDonald.

My boy was born in Sweden. My wife is usually Swedish. I’m English. We want your pet to speak both languages.

Image caption Keith Moore with his spouse Emmelie and their son

More than half associated with Europeans speak more than one language, plus 90% of Swedes do : with English by far the most popular second vocabulary .

I’m nevertheless surprised sometimes when I switch on the television at the range of British programmes transmitted here with subtitles, from Broadchurch and The Great British Bake Away to Emmerdale and the Antiques Roadshow.

Emmelie, my wife, is specially keen for my son in order to speak English with an English accessory – ideally like Oliver Turn transported to Stockholm. Oliver Twistsson, perhaps?

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Of course , many individuals learn a second language as teens or adults. But many learn because babies too – either since the parents speak different languages or even because they have moved to a nation where the language is different.

Apparently, parents once feared that will teaching a child two languages through birth would confuse them and prevent them learning either language correctly.

Nowadays, being bilingual is thought to have a lot of advantages.


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There is lots of research on this, showing that will speaking several languages can transform your brain’s plasticity, its ability to procedure new problems, and reduce the risks associated with dementia.

Therefore , based on what we read and buddies we spoke to, we chosen the one-parent-one-language approach. That means my spouse speaks Swedish to our son and am speak English.

Which brings me back to Older MacDonald… and his Swedish cousin.

I was lazing on the couch one Sunday in a new-baby haze, when I heard that familiar track drifting in from the bedroom — but with different words.

“Per Olsson han hade sobre bonnagå rd, lian, lian, lej. ”

“Per Olsson? Huh, ” I thought in order to myself. “Not sure I’d believe in him driving a tractor before Old MacDonald. ”

But anyhow, it continued and before long I actually heard the Swedish word to get pig – “gris”.

Followed by: “Med ett nö ff-nö ff hä r, och ett nö ff-nö ff dä l. ”

That’s while i poked my head into the bedroom.

“A nö ff-nö ff? ”

“Yes, the nö ff-nö ff, ” emerged the reply.

Have you been sure you don’t mean “oink, oink”?

“I’m sure. inch

“How about a canine? ”

“Vov-vov. inch

And a horse?

“Gnä gg-gnä gg. inch

But they aren’t the particular sounds they make, I said. A puppy woofs and a horse neighs.

Apparently not to the Swede.

And not in lots of other different languages either, I afterwards learned. In fact , the words used to explain animal sounds varied far more than I could ever have dreamed.

To a Japan speaker, I read, the sound the bee makes is not “buzz buzz” but “boon boon”.

When they’re faced with questions such as whether the pig in front of them “oink-oinks” or “nö ff-nö ffs”, it appears less surprising that children raised to be bilingual have superior problem-solving skills.

But on this first day trip to a farm, I believe we will go easy on ourself and take our son to go to a dairy farm.

Because for both Old MacDonald and Per Olsson, the cows go “moo”. Well, the Swedish spell it “mu”, but it might be basically pronounced the same.

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