Saturday, 24 October 2009

Generation gap

Puce's grandmothers (one in France, one in Scotland) are now both trying to learn each others' languages.  My mother, GrannyS, was telling me about the method that she's discovered for learning French with minimum effort (wish I knew about that a few years ago…).  Which got me thinking...

I have to admit that sometimes I have difficulty getting my head round the fact that what took me years, decades to learn, will be a natural part of Puce’s everyday life.  Switching from one language to another with equal ease in both, according to her environment and those around her.  One day sipping tea from a mug with her British family or drinking her chocolat chaud from a bowl with her French cousins, neither seeming strange or needing to be learnt.  Just being.

Until now, I'd never thought about how other members of my family perceive this.  I'm now wondering whether family and friends in my country will see Puce as a French child who may one day have difficulties explaining something in a “foreign” language (English) and might need help overcoming linguistic stumbling blocks?   Maybe I’m wrong, but I like to think that Puce is and will be like a French child when with her French entourage and like a British child when in an English-speaking context.  Or will she be as déracinée as I feel in both countries?

Another thing that struck me is how our parents see us, this generation that has left our roots to learn a new language, way of life and make our home and family elsewhere.  What is it like for them, a generation that travel less than we take for granted today, never had such as thing as an Erasmus year, now spending most of their holidays visiting us, their children and grandchildren, in far-flung corners of the world, listening to us speaking languages that they don’t understand?

Next week we’re taking Puce to Scotland to see the family there.  I think that I’ll be even more attentive as to how the four generations of English and now French speakers interact…

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