(Scroll down a couple of paragraphs for part one, or click here. )
So, our visitors have gone, and so have the Yorkshire accents.
It didn’t take long. Within about four hours of saying a teary goodbye to their (now) favourite cousin, the kids were back with their local bilingual mates, swapping stories in Spanglish and reverting to their more usual, kind of neutral, accents (a product of a mixture of influences, TV, DVDs, youtube clips, other English speaking families and kids we hang out with).
It’s interesting, but no surprise to see what linguistic chameleons kids are, adapting and modifying to fit in with the linguistic background. What surprised me was to hear that the brief switch into a broad Leeds accent (which was highly successful – I got my son and my nephew completely mixed up by the end) had also affected their dad’s linguistic identity, shifting the centre of linguistic power, and he wasn’t comfortable with it. What to the kids came completely natural, to him sounded completely faux. And I thought it was just me 😉
Another thing we noticed was how we seem to have linguistic double standards when it comes to noise and boisterous kiddy behaviour. When the kids were being loud in English it seemed to grate much more than when they are being loud in Spanish – even though the location was the same. Differing cultural norms encased in different languages? Something I’m going to give more thought to …