Tuesday, June 14, 2011

que tu es mignon--oh wait! you're a girl!

After five and a half years of speaking French to my son and my nephew, I feel very comfortable in my non-native language. 

Until last week, when I was playing with my six-month-old niece, bouncing her on my lap and reciting comptines and singing and enjoying her humongous grins.  "Oh, que tu es mignon!" I exclaimed.  [You are soooo cute!]

And then I heard myself: I was using the masculine adjective ending instead of the feminine form (mignonne) with this baby girl!  Five and a half years of speaking French to little boys means that the masculine adjective endings are the ones that will automatically jump into my head when I'm talking to a child--but in five weeks or so I'm going to have a petite fille around the house!  Not only will I need to get used to having a new baby to take care of, I'll need to reconfigure my French grammar paradigm to include girls, won't I?


  1. I love this post, thanks so much for sharing! The whole gender thing in these other languages definitely makes it harder for those of us native English speakers to make the shift. I'm glad it's not just me!
    AND, I love hearing that, after 5 years, you are comfortable...I've been struggling lately, wondering...it's definitely a roller coaster ride!
    Enjoy that new little chica! You might have two of them around soon? (do you know the gender of your baby yet?)

  2. This little story made me smile. It's great for me to hear how comfortable you are feeling speaking to Griffin in French consistently. Really makes me feel that what I want is achievable.

    Interestingly, I was reading an entry on another blog yesterday where a mum was talking about being super strict with OPOL and sometime ago you had left a comment there saying that you were also 100% strict. Hearing of the results that come through your commitment to this approach constantly renews my resolve to try and adhere strictly to OPOL too.

  3. Ohh boy, I understand - the gender thing gets me all the time! LOL!!

  4. Well, it's still a roller coaster ride, but it's one I'm comfortable on (as long as I keep my seat belt buckled)!

    My niece, Ellie, is seven months old now, and starting to seem like a real (albeit little) person, not just a baby. Her cousin, whom we're calling "Unicorn" until we settle on a name (down to five possibilities now, which is progress), will be a girl!

    @Bonne Maman--Yes, I do try to stay 100% in French with Griffin, right down to the music playing in the background when we're the only ones in the house. (My rare exceptions: when interacting with songs and rhymes at an English storytime, at swim class in a noisy pool where I repeat exactly what the teacher says for safety's sake, and when I get especially mad and frustrated and tired and then holler at him in English and immediately feel guilty.)

    What I haven't been strict with, on the other hand, is insisting that he respond in French. I'm just thrilled that he reacts appropriately!