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Monday, June 29, 2009

She's Bright... Really

The other day the Tongginator "got" something that I thought she'd figured out long ago. As many of you know, she understands several hundred Mandarin words, although she lacks any and all knowledge of its grammar. Anyways, out of the blue last week, the Tongginator shared something with me...

TONGGINATOR: (just double-checking) Momma, when we go to China next year, I'm still gonna be talking regular. I'm not gonna be talking Chinese, right?

TONGGU MOMMA: Well, honey, sometimes you might want to say some things in Mandarin while we're in China, but yes, you'll probably still mostly speak English.


TONGGU MOMMA: You aren't going to stop speaking in English just because we are in China.


TONGGU MOMMA: Honey, that's what we're speaking right now. When you "talk regular," you're speaking in English.

TONGGINATOR: (light bulb moment) Oh! Okay. But I'm not gonna just start talking Chinese cuz we're there, right?

TONGGU MOMMA: No, honey... probably not.

I know at least one person who is wistfully thinking, 'oh, if only it were that easy.' Mei-Ling, I'm thinking of you tons right now. And I promise all y'all that the Tongginator is as bright as a light bulb... really.

It's her momma who's dim.


Sharie said...

Oh that is too cute.
Amelia wrote about 10 characters in a thank you card last night - I asked her what they were and she had NO idea. They looked like they were written perfectly though;)

chicknboy said...


oh how I wish it WERE that easy to speak another language...just pop into the country and voila-you speak their language. that would be awesome!

Dawn said...

You never know - her "regular talking" may turn into Mandarin. We have friends who adopted a 2 year old boy from Russia. Almost two years later, they ran into a friend who spoke Russian. The friend was speaking in English and asked if they thought the little guy remembered any Russian. They told him they didn't think he did, other than just a few simple words. So, the friend switched to Russian and the little guy answered appropriately (with "yes" and "no") and shocked them all!

jen@odbt said...

How exciting you're going to China! Did I miss a post about this trip? I think I said the same thing to my parents when we'd visit the Philippines. I understand tagalog even though I can't speak it. No one can have a conversation around me. Maybe Tongginator is keeping that bit of info to herself :)

malinda said...

This reminds me of a children's book called "American Face." A Korean adoptee is going to his citizenship ceremony, and thinks he'll get an "American face" when he becomes an American citizen. We never know WHAT'S going on in their heads!

Mei-Ling said...

It's times like these that I almost, almost, ALMOST wish I was a mainland adoptee so that I didn't have to have my dictionary on hand 24/7 whenever I step outside.

Mei-Ling said...

Pee Ess: If your Tongginator really does know "several hundred words" in Mandarin, her vocabulary far exceeds mine. Last count about 2 months ago was around 250. It's probably around 270/280 now.

Pee Pee Ess: I totally think grammar is a better survival technique rather than just being able to point at objects and say random words.

Jillene said...

Aaaawwww....that's SO cute!!

The Source said...

Five year old logic is something, isn't it? Wouldn't it be awesome if we could jump off a plane and immediately know the language? The world would be a smaller place!

And too cute about not realizing she speaks English. We live by a river that divides two states...and cross back and forth just about daily between the two. When my boys were small, Quatro marveled one day that we could drive over into Georgia and understand exactly what they were saying! In Georgian! Because I guess we speak South Carolinian??

Aunt LoLo said...

That is too funny!

BBJ has no idea that she's speaking English...but we're working on differentiating.

When I want her to speak in Chinese, I will gently remind her, "Jung mahn." To which she will perkily respond, "Jung mahn!!" *sigh*

Johnny said...

This made me think of a slight burr in my saddle on both our adoptions. After we got back, the first thing friends/family would ask is if they understood English yet. Kinda in a way of, "Well once they learn English, they can start being normal."

Maybe it's the funky way I look at my world, but my answer to them was, "Well to a 14 or 24 month old child, does it matter?"

(sorry for the comment-blog posting)

But the point is why does the word "cat" have to be English if there is a word that sounds like that in Mandarin?

I think what rubbed my fur the wrong way was that people were being so English-culture-centric.

Okay, off soapbox.

LaLa said...

too funny...I had the same moment the other day...Annslee was counting in Mandarin, then in Spanish...so I said...can you still count in English? She said..what is English? LOL

Janet said...

Are you trying to tell me that you don't automatically speak the language of the country you're in? Well, that explains a LOT about Uganda, then. I was so confused.

Beach Mama said...

She may just surprise you with with her Mandarin when you are in China! She IS the Tongginator, after all!

Debz said...

dim...he he cute.

Gotta love the way they think eh!

Too cute!

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

That is cute and amusing! I wish it were that easy to speak another language. I have to give the Tongginator credit for assuming that's how people speak the language of their land though. It's very logical if you think about it :-)

abc123vn said...

Awww too cute! And how I so wish it was that easy!