Tuesday, December 11, 2012

N is for Nihongo

We are far from polyglots in this house.  I have a less-than-rudimentary command of foreign languages.  I took five years' worth of Spanish in high school and college, and remember enough vocabulary and grammar to have a basic conversation with my high school freshman.  My Spanish "translates" well enough that I can read a prayer book in Latin, and order dinner at a restaurant in Rome.  I can guess at enough German to understand the Pennsylvania Deitch smattered though an Amish-theme novel without using the glossary, and, courtesy a college dormmate, can write my name in Cyrillic.   My command of Far Eastern languages is pretty much limited to episodes of Kai-lan (Ni hao!!) and subtitled original Iron Chef episodes.   Neal will admit his command of foreign languages isn't much better, and the other kids are learning Spanish but are far from fluent.

Jude doesn't speak foreign languages, either.  Heck, even his American Sign Language vocabulary is limited and adapted by his lack of fine motor skills!  His verbal language articulation is abysmal, and he even has been diagnosed with Phonological disorder.  Phonics is incredibly hard for him.  He is pretty good at pointing out letters - if asked, "Where is the <letter>?" he can indicate it, but if asked "What does this letter say?" odds are good either he will mispronounce it (for example, substituting /b/ for /p/) or just flat out get it wrong (/b/ for /r/).   He knows about 2/3 of the alphabet at any given time, but the 2/3 he knows today isn't necessarily the same as 2/3 that he knew yesterday or will know tomorrow.  He also has a very difficult time figuring out the sounds at the beginning or end of a word, and often drops sounds (or even entire syllables) when speaking.  All of this underscores the irony of his YouTube playlist:  despite struggling so much with articulating and isolating sounds, he loves watching videos in other languages.  He will spend hours on the iPad, watching episodes of cartoons in other languages.

We've walked by him watching episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in Greek.  He's mesmerized. 

H Giatros Daisy  (Dr. Daisy, MD)

At first, I thought it was the novelty of the foreign language.  They are episodes that he has seen over and over, so he knows "what comes next."  It's easy for him to follow the activity, so the voice dub is just "noise."

But then we saw him watching Disney cartoons dubbed in German. 

 Goofy wie man ein Rockstar wird!
(Goofy - How to become a rock star!)

Still, they were familiar characters.  So we thought maybe he could figure out the gist of things with the actions?

But then he started watching user-made Power Rangers episodes in Japanese. This is one of his favorite videos. It's watching somebody build a toy.  I assume he has no idea what they are saying - as far as I know, he can't read the subtitles either.  But I hear the theme song at least four or five times each day:

I'm out of explanations, folks.  I can't make any sense of it.  He enjoys it, though.

I've chosen "Nihongo," the Japanese people's word for their language, as our Letter N theme and am linking up again with Blogging through the Alphabet.   Come see what others find as their N-initialed inspiration.  Multumesc for stopping by!

PS - That's "thank you" in Romanian.  Jude does know three words in that language. The other two are Mamae and Tatae (Romanian for "grandmother" and "grandfather").  Jude's godfather is originally from Romania, and those are the nicknames Jude calls Uncle John's parents.

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas re: language learning. WE are doing RS for German and the kids LOVE it- guess we should find some German youtube cartoons! New follower and fellow crew member ; )!


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