I’m lying on the bed with the almost-four-year-old. She’s harangued a third story out of me before bedtime. I glance up as my wife walks past.
‘Sal jy vir ons koffie en sjokolade gaan kry?
One of the benefits of an alternate franca lingua is that you can scheme with your spouse without the progenies getting wind of your machinations.
‘Are you guys speaking English?’ she says, suspiciously.
‘English is from France you know?’
I have been very remiss in teaching my kids other languages. Despite being multi-lingual myself. All Saffers are at the very least bilingual and I would guess the majority is likely trilingual or more.
I am weary of the supposed benefit of being fluent in a dead (or dying) languages. I often express this unpopular notion in polite company, its one of those tendentious topics I like to poke at. Once I’ve covered our weird obsession with pseudo-deities and libertarianism as the ultimate go-to political philosophy I mean. Stick to the languages of empire. Or former empires I suppose.
What qualifies as a dead language?
Well… any language that isn’t producing literature I muse. And I don’t mean there is a translation of Harry Potter available. Actual literature. Perhaps I should rather lead with languages I don’t think are dying.
Top tier are likely (in no particular order) English. French. Mandarin. Spanish. Portuguese.
Second tier maybe German. Japanese. Hindi. Arabic.
Globally distributed is obviously first prize. Followed by economic prowess.
Mostly I’m just winding people up about their cultural proclivities. I do think you’re doing your child a disservice though if you’re educating them primarily in a lower tier language.
Obviously I have no idea what the optimal strategy is concerning multiple forms of communication. I’m just prattling. Which is a great word. English has awesome synonyms. German has epic compound words though. Like Torschlusspanik. And Afrikaans is an amazing language for transmitting humor.
I wonder if we’d hate each other less if everyone (in the world) spoke one only language. I mean it would be way more boring living here… but probably more peaceful.
Although we’d likely find another way to differentiate ourselves and then hate on others.