Sunday, 27 July 2008

Lazy(Tembel, Barid)) Sunday (Pazar, Al-Ahad) Afternoon (Ogleden sonra,بعد الظّهر)

It's too hot to do any serious work today, and besides it's Sunday. I'm just sat in the garden, listening to langourous mid-afternoon birdsong, drinking a beer and contemplating sparking up the barbie. And, while son #2 is having his nap, reflecting on how he's acquiring language. Currently he's not two years old yet (he's 21 months), yet you would expect he would be producing certain phrases by now. He is, but what's interesting is the variety. Nur and I are both making the best effort we can to speak English and Turkish with him, but he's also getting input from his childminder, who's Syrian. So, we have 3 very different language systems that he's being exposed to, from the uninflected Turkish through to the highly inflected Arabic. Although Turkish and Arabic share quite a few lexical items (though not as many as you might expect: The Turkish language reform of 1928 effectively created an linguistic tabula rasa) they are significantly different. You would think it would be hard for any child to make sense of anything through the prism of these different tongues. So how does Sean cope?
Surpisingly well, is the answer. While it's difficult to understand what he's saying at times, apart from some lexical items and bits of syntax, what is also apparent is that he understands himself - in other words, he has his own interlanguage with its own rules and conventions and which to him is perfectly comprehensible. What I find a little surprising, considering the L1 environment is English, is that he seems to prefer Turkish and Arabic vocabulary. He tends to call me, for example, 'Baba' or 'Aba'. However, his intonation and rhythm are distinctly English - for example, he uses very distinct rising and falling intonation when asking a 'wh-' type question (even if I don't understand what he's asking!), and a rising intonation when asking a 'yes-no' type question. What will be interesting to watch is how this interlanguage develops, and how, or if, he will begin to change preferences as to which lexical items he uses, and thence how it changes morphologically.
(btw, please forgive any dodgy Arabic in the heading)

2 comments:

David said...

Some claim that about 40% of Turkish and Arabic lexis is shared. I'm not one of those people.

Nurel said...

As a Turkish;it may not be 40%; but I can comfortable say; at least 20% arabic vocabularies we still use in daily Turkish so it is true!

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