Friday, November 14, 2008

First of the Culture Clashes

Lena is starting to talk quite a bit nowadays and this is great. But is presenting me with an interesting question to ponder.

She spends most of her time with me, so she is learning most of her language from me. And I don't say things always the way the Brits do. I've mentioned before about bilingual baby vocabulary, and now I have a bit of toddler vocabulary. When Lena gets dressed, she wears socks, a shirt, panties and pants. Least she does when I dress her, which is at least 5 out of 7 mornings. G puts socks, a shirt, pants and trousers on her. So Lena says panties and pants.

My word for her outer clothing is G's word for her undergarments which is also what the Brits say. Pants. Not a big deal, but knowing how kids (and adults) are, it will be noticed that Lena talks about pants rather than trousers. And I'm wondering if I should start calling them trousers, just so she doesn't have problems with this later on. Don't misunderstand me, I am more than happy for her to pronounce tomatoes "to-MAY-toes", but I don't want her to be the butt of any toilet humour over pants. I know that it could be an issue, as I've had 1st-hand experience.

On our trip last year to Scotland, I got drawn into a conversation with an eight-year old girl on the ferry back to Oban. She was chatting quite happily to me, telling me that she was off with her parents to buy new clothes. I asked her what she was buying, "Are you getting new pants?" Upon the fit of giggles that burst out of her, I realised my faux pas. Despite saying with much more emphasis, "I mean trousers. TROUSERS," it more or less brought the end to our conversation. God forbid I was a man and someone had happened to overhear that tidbit of conversation; I would have been locked up.

I don't want Lena to have to face teasing over saying that one word differently. Kids can be cruel, and I also know that children can get picked on for any reason, or lack of reason. But I don't think she needs to hand it to them on a platter either.