Childhood Language Remembrances

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Frank Sanoica, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member

    Feb 21, 2016
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    Years after the fact, I recognized the existence in our home amongst my Dad and Mother, signs of three languages being lightly utilized. My Mother, born in Bohemia, learned English, very well, beginning at 5, upon arrival here. My Dad, born in Chicago, undoubtedly experienced a heavy amount of Czech at home, until the arrival at age two of his brother, Charlie, then at 4, sister Sylvia was born, he then by six was likely pretty English-savvy, and using it in conversing with brother and sister. My Grandpa, a tailor by trade, probably had a majority clientele of Czechs, so picked up English meagerly, and slowly.

    Now and then, my Dad would demand, "Get me the "shroab-ziegel", to complete some task. (pronounced "shrobe-tsee-gel". Studying German in High School years later, I learned the correct German word for "screwdriver": Shraubentzier. Note the similarity to the Czech-bastardized word: many were like that, almost German-sounding, but adequately different to satisfy the anti-German Czech attitude; my family greatly disliked the Germans.

    My grandparents expressed shock and dissatisfaction when they learned I took German in H.S. so deeply did they despise Germany. Yet, my maternal grandma used a number of "Czech" words that could only have come from the German: "trick-tyeesh", twisted Czech for "trichter", a funnel.

    Once, during an altercation, my paternal grandpa, arguing with my grandma's brother who lived across the road in rural Michigan, demanded of her, "Dai muy "Rev-ohl-vere" (get me my revolver). She did, and he proceded to fire shots over the head of his brother in law, running away in fear! My grandpa was said to be a tyrant, but my Dad always downplayed that, reminding all that the old-man's ways were rooted in good. For example, when the family, father and mother and 5 kids sat down to eat, the kids were always served first. By order of the old man......

  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Jan 21, 2015
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    When my maternal grandparents, and some other older relatives, were at the house, my parents and they would often speak Swedish, but they generally did that only at night while my brothers and I were in bed, or at least in our rooms. If I came out of my room to use the bathroom or get something to drink, everyone would switch to English as if they had been caught doing something wrong.

    I referred to Swedish as gibberish, and was taught only to say thank you and you're welcome in Swedish, as a way of amusing the grandparents, and my dad would sometimes warn us about watching out for the tomtegubbar, which, before it became a drinking song, was some sort of a Swedish elf or something. He never explained what it was supposed to be but I looked it up once.
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  3. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member

    Aug 11, 2015
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    Ive posted this many times on here but I didn't learn English until after my year in kindergarten....and at home we always spoke Hungarian..
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