Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Bilingual Baby Talk

stream-of-consciousness-sundayHere is my 5 minute brain dump as part of this great series. Here goes …

We only speak English at home. All BiP’s books are in English, all her DVD’s are in English but obviously when we are out and in French speaking company we speak French.

At 17months BiP is saying a few words. What has become apparent is that no matter what we try to drum into her as the word for this or that she will use the word that is most applicable and relevant to her.

DaddyinProvence wanted to be called “Papa” but to BiP he is “Daddy” and she says it so perfectly it makes my heart melt.

I want to be Mummy, not Mum, not Ma, MUMMY. And what does she call me? “Maman” which is the French for Mummy and I hate it. It drives me nuts.

Other words include “Ka-ka” which she uses for “Poo” – in France they say anything dirty is “ka-ka” and obviously poop is “ka-ka” also – I guess it’s easier for her to say that than Poo-Poo but it still gets me.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the fact that she will be bilingual without even realising but since I struggle so much with French I find it bizarre that MY baby is speaking French.

The other day she said “Encore” instead of again … I was taken aback.

English still has the upper hand so I still feel like I am in charge 🙂 She waves and calls “Bye-Bye” so beautifully that even the most hardcore French speakers will follow up their “Au Revoir” with “Bye-Bye”!

Anyone else experienced the same thing with their bilingual baby?


This is my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post at all.things.fadra.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.


16 thoughts on “Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Bilingual Baby Talk

  1. Susana

    My twins are also growing bilingual (English and Spanish). I speak to them in Spanish all the time when I’m with them at home. Everyone else speaks to them in English and I speak to them in English when we’re in the company of other people (with some exceptions). They seem to understand both just fine. As for vocabulary, they use whatever is easiest for them to pronounce. For example, they’ll say ‘Pea’ or ‘Peas’ for Please instead of the Spanish word. They use the Spanish word for water b/c it’s easiest for them to say… I could go on an on.

    It’s fun to watch their vocabulary evolve.

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      That’s so cute! Thanks for sharing Susana – BiP is doing the same thing!

    2. Fabi

      Same with my daughter. ‘Agua’ is soooo much easier than water. But ‘por favor’ is just too long, so she says ‘peas’ for please.

  2. MrsB

    Bilingual kids are awesome 🙂 I still marvel quite often that “oh my god, my babies speak English so fluently!!!” We mostly speak Estonian at home, other than on weekends when my husband is at home, but the kids (6 and almost 3) are so fluent in both languages that they switch amazingly well between the languages. It is simply amazing to witness.

    In the beginning it’s natural that they choose words to say that are easier to pronounce. I’m happy though that my kids never call me “mummy”, I am always “emme” 🙂

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      I find myself doing the same thing here – some French words are more accurate in describing something than the word in English but I now have to FORCE myself to use the English word so not to speak Franglais myself.

      I’ve noticed BiP using French words because they are MUCH easier to say than the English and vice versa. Thanks for sharing … it’s awesome that your kids are bilingual!

  3. Sophie Le Brozec

    I would go crazy when L called me “Maman” when we lived in France and I was trying to get English into her brain. Now we’re living in the UK I’m trying to get her to speak French as English has taken over as her main language. It does sort itself out after a while but it’s tough staying patient in the early days. Good luck!

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      I guess location impacts the way we look at things eh? Thanks for reassuring me that it will even out eventually!

  4. Liene

    Although we live in France, we speak only Latvian at home. My son does hear French and English when we are out and about during the week. Still, his vocabulary has been very slow to develop, and I’m associating this with the presence of more than one language in our daily life. Research shows bilingual babies start speaking later, right?

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Yes, they say that. BiP is 17m old and can say a few words in English and I’ve realised that she also knows quite a few in French but her vocabulary is definitely less than the monolingual kids she plays with. It will even itself out later on. I do have some people here horrified that I am speaking English at home because she’ll be “behind” at school – at age FOUR. Hmm … what about looking to when she is 10 and can converse in both languages fluently? Monolinguals seem to have a fear of bilingualism/trilingualism.

  5. Amanda (Her Thirties)

    I live in Canada where the official languages are both English and French.. But I know almost next to no French.. And I have never felt at a loss because of that. Obviously, like you said, there will be advantages to being Bilingual. My husband went to a French emersion school and is bilingual.. So when we have kids he wants the same for them.. Which Im not crazy about.. As I don’t speak it.

    Good luck!

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      I never learnt Arabic even though it is my mother’s first language because my father wasn’t keen on it apparently. I have to admit as an adult I do feel resentful of the fact that my parents decided NOT to expose me to a 2nd language from birth because it was “easier”. I lived a lot of my life in the middle east and my name is an arabic name, I look like I should speak arabic and I don’t which does suck. I hope BiP will go on to learn more languages when she gets older – I don’t mind if I don’t understand them – it’s an amazing opportunity for her and, as a mother, I feel that I want her to be better than me in every way. If that makes sense?

  6. Brittany {Mommy Words}

    I totally can see where you are coming from. Still, living in the U.S. where multiple languages are barely valued and not a focus at all, I would give a LOT for bilingual kids.

    Their cousins are bilingual and we have considered going to see them for months at a time but the current situation in Mexico is putting that on hold for a long time. Besides, I would rather be in France!

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      That’s a shame that in the US there are SO many languages yet there is no real focus on them. I think you have to be in an environment where you have no choice but expose your kids to a second language to make it work easily. I know that if we were in Dubai BiP would probably never learn arabic just because it’s so easy to move in circles where you don’t have to speak it.

  7. Dominique

    My kids are growing up multilingual as they have been introduced to English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese since young. They started out speaking more in English then Mandarin or Cantonese but since then have learned when to use each language at the appropriate time/occasion.

    My 1 yr old baby calls hubs both Papa and Daddy and still calls me Maemee instead of Mama or Mummy which I would rather prefer.

    1. Ameena Falchetto Post author

      Wow that’s amazing. It’s such a fabulous thing for children to grow up with different languages – they will never have that feeling of embarrassment or lack the self confidence adults do when it comes to learning a new language later in life.


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