Globe and Mail article: “Alphabet fusion”

A big theme in my work is multilingualism. I’m interested in how people live in several tongues simultaneously: authors who speak one language in daily life, but write in another; families who embrace members from all over the world; and how kids navigate polyglot waters.

In large part my interest is biographical: I grew up bilingual (Lithuanian-English) and then continued to study other languages as an adult (French, Russian, German, Yiddish).

Now I’m watching in fascination as my three-year-old son grows up in three languages. He makes up words, fuses languages and translates constantly. A few months ago, I started collecting his linguistic inventions for a kind of Sebastian lexicon. The exercise then grew into an essay on how we talk.

You can read my article, “Alphabet fusion” that appeared in the Globe and Mail (April, 21, 2010) here. It’s about how the three members of my family communicate.

[Photo uploaded by quinn.anya]

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One Reply to “Globe and Mail article: “Alphabet fusion””

  1. This is an absolutely fantastic, touching essay that reflects the reality of so many households here in Montreal, across Canada and around the world.

    I grew up in Ontario but I was placed in an uncompromising French at an early age (back in the days when French immersion was still quite rare). As a result of that and later study, I am now fluently bilingual. I speak Spanish as well, which I picked up in high school and regularly practice on my travels. Knowing French made it extremely easy to learn.

    My parents have given me a lot, but French might be the best thing of all. The irony is that my parents speak only English. They couldn’t help me with my homework when I was growing up and they could not converse easily with my francophone teachers. But they knew how important it was to grow up with the advantage of speaking as many languages as possible.

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