We are losing it: why do children of immigrants need Russian?
I will make a reservation right away - the phrase “Russian language” is rather arbitrary. In its place could be: Ukrainian, Armenian, Georgian and so on. Speech, parents, about your native language, which in immigration remained native for you, but became the second for your children.
- And my mother said that it was dirty, I would not like it very much, and we did not go there, - a girl of about six years old and her grandmother sat opposite me in the subway car of the train, which was heading to Brighton. The young and youthful ladies were discussing the foam party in Mexico.
- Well, why not? - answered the grandmother. - Its ap to u, only you decide whether you like it or not. Do you like it or didn't you like it either?
Tell me why? What kind of “ap tu yu”? I understand this girl goes to school and her English is probably better than her grandmother's. Grandmother feels it too and tries to keep up with her granddaughter. But in reality she is not just lagging behind - she has long been carried away downstream and the distance between her and her granddaughter is only increasing and increasing ... Here, on the contrary, it is necessary - to keep your Russian, and not to run after her English! No, of course, it's good that an elderly woman learns the language of the country where she immigrated. But it's bad that she uses it to communicate with her granddaughter ... Thus, she deprives her granddaughter of the opportunity to learn another, by the way, difficult language for free. And herself - the opportunity to communicate with a loved one: how will she understand her granddaughter with her very primitive English when she becomes a teenager? But the girl is trying to make her grandmother understand her. For now. Let her phrases - sometimes not a very beautiful translation or not built according to the rules of the Russian language, but tracing paper - she builds sentences in Russian as if she had built them in English. But it is still “great and mighty”. Grandma stubbornly denies her the opportunity to speak Russian. Quite a little time will pass and this same elderly woman will raise her hands to the sky, indignant:
- He doesn't want to speak Russian at all! Not in any!
What for? Why does she speak to you in your language? You yourself taught her to answer in the language that is closer to her.
The situation described above demonstrates in the best possible way, perhaps, the main reason for the loss of the native language: parents are afraid that the child will forget / not master Russian / Moldovan / Chinese ... so that later it would be possible to fully communicate with him. They worry that they themselves will not master English well, hope that the children will help them learn. That is why they puff up and “speak” in English. But one cannot learn a language by communication with a child, it is necessary to pursue it purposefully. You can't learn English, but losing Russian is easy!
Parents are afraid, that's why you can hear that on the beach, that in the park on all sides of the abracadabra like: "You like I don't know like a strange person!"
Sometimes such a mess, however, indicates a different situation - you have a small vocabulary in your native language. Leaving your native language environment, you quickly lost the ability to make sentences either only in one or only in another language. Since a sufficient vocabulary was not accumulated at home, the voids were filled with the simplest phrases in English. And no, this is not bilingualism at all, which I will write about below.
There is a more severe case of such a mess - this is Ruinglish, ridiculous and merciless. A language in which words are distorted, break and take not bizarre, but even ugly forms. For some time now I have been writing down expressions in Ruinglish. For the fifth year in a row, a question I heard in a supermarket has held the palm:
- Did you feed what I patted?
Yes, sometimes it happens differently - mom and dad try, speak only their own, and the child does not perceive him - either he does not want, or something else. Unknown. I am a mother myself, and I know how hard it is to raise two or more language children. But just because a child doesn't want to speak your own language doesn't mean you should give up immediately. He can't speak your language, and you can't speak his language at home (in this case, English) - why not? Speak to him only in your language. Only. Answer, explain, ask ... Let him answer persistently in English, do not give up. Often, interest not only in language, which is the main one for parents, but also in culture manifests itself in high school or college. So give your child the opportunity to gain vocabulary by this time. Believe me, all this is being put off somewhere, accumulating and patiently waiting in the wings.
Pigs mewed: Meow, meow! Kittens grunted: Oink, oink, oink!
Sometimes parents deliberately cut off their native languages, explaining everything with just one phrase: "He just started to get confused!"
Yes, it is a frequent phenomenon: a child is born in a bilingual family, and after a while parents realize that he does not speak as well or in such quantity as his peers. Or speak, but confuse words. This situation is described immediately as a catastrophe: chef, everything is gone !!!
If such parents knew how the same Nabokov spoke three languages - Russian, English and French. And each was native. He wrote the famous “Lolita” in English, and then translated it into Russian himself and sometimes complained that he hadn't done it well enough. Those who read "Lolita" are now amazed or grinned - is that not good enough?
Do those parents know that representatives of the pre-revolutionary nobility in Russia knew 4-6 languages? From early childhood with the servants, they spoke Russian, with their mother - in French, with the bonna - in German, with the governess - in English, they learned Greek and Latin at school, and so on. Note that we are not talking about two unfortunate languages, and not even about three. And yes, most likely, at first, the unfortunate little nobleman also mercilessly confused the words and, oh, horror, he addressed his mother in Russian, and to the servants in German. But something tells me that it was a) a short period of time, b) not fatal.
Out of sight, out of mind!
- He won't be useful to him! - every time I hear such a phrase, I am surprised to the depths of my soul. Are you a reincarnation of Nostradamus and know your child's future ahead of time? Otherwise, why such confidence? Who and when gave you guarantees that your child will not become a translator from Ukrainian into English, or a scout (what the hell is not kidding), will not teach native Tajik in an American school for people from Tajikistan, or write articles in Moldovan about life in the United States?
Take a look around. We live in a country where knowing 2-3 languages is not something special, this is the norm. The shop assistant where I buy fruits and vegetables easily switches from Uzbek to English, from English to Russian. With a couple of phrases, she manages to negotiate with the Mexican workers who bring her goods every morning. He will melodiously offer “in shalla” to a regular customer in a burqa when she once again tells about her son's plans to get a good education ... My hairdresser knows one of the Chinese dialects, French and English. Etc.
Now tell me who is more competitive in our difficult time - your child, who understands Russian at the level - Seryozha, it's time to eat dumplings! Or a bilingual who switches to another language without problems? Why not give your child a tongue? It will cost you nothing, and it will protect your child, for example, from Alzheimer's. After all, this is the conclusion that scientists have come to: foreign languages are a kind of vaccination against senile dementia.
Plus, people who speak two languages well have better concentration, are more attentive and observant. Bilinguals learn new languages more easily - when you know two languages, learning the third is no longer a problem. They socialize more easily, they have better developed communication skills, and so on, on, on. Well, yes, of course, there is a minus - they usually start talking later, or, oh, horror - they confuse the words. But still, against the background of pluses and prospects, this minus fades, isn't it?
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