Monday, May 14, 2007

Me No Comprenda

Have you heard of the French dialect called Shiak? It is a mix of English and French and is supposedly a hot thing with the youth in various parts of Canada. Thanks to Eve's help I even have an example for you:

English: Pass me the ketchup please.
French: Me passer le ketchup s'il vous plaît.
Shiak: Pass moi le Ketchup, s'il vous plaît.

It seems a bit like the Spanish-English combo that I hear in the Western United States. And that is pretty hip right now too. But just for the record, my mom and my grandma were speaking Spanglish first. Back in the 70's. Long before J-Lo or anyone else hopped on the bandwagon.

My mom took Spanish in High School, and since my grandma taught school in heavily populated Spanish-speaking areas of California, she naturally pick up the language. So with that in common, when my grandparents came to Iowa on their yearly visit, Grandma and Mom could discuss all sorts of secret surprises, right in front of us. And try as I might - I could never figure out what was going on. Their discussions would go something like this:

Mom: Las niñas are aburrido.
Grandma: Ah. It is time for trabajo.
Mom: But qué will keep them ocupado?
Grandma: How about: limpie the bedrooms.

I would listen intently, hoping someone was buying me new curtains for my bedroom. Instead, my sisters and I, as payback for our professed boredom, were soon knee-deep in cleaning behind our dressers and under our beds.

Later the conversations would continue:

Grandma: Linda, it is very caliente.
Mom: Yes, Mom.
Grandma: Perhaps abuelo should compre some helado.
Mom (not as fluent as Grandma): Abuelo?
Grandma: Si, Linda. Have you forgotten so much of your Spanish already?
Mom: Abuelo...Abuelo...
Grandma (a bit perturbed, pointing to Grandpa): Ron, Linda.
Mom: Ohhh abuelo. Si, now I remember. It is caliente. Helado? Las niñas would be so feliz!

And so Grandpa would get the treasured chore of walking us to Penn Drug Store in the 95 degree heat with 80% humidity for twenty-cent ice cream cones. And we would be completely surprised, not knowing if we were going on an errand to pick up some extra broccoli for dinner or what.


  1. I wonder if Shiak "franglais" has as much of a fingernails on the chalkboard effect as "spanglish."

    I am not very good at Spanish, but I DO try to honor both languages by picking one or the other, and not mixing them in a sentence as if they were compatible that way. Blekkthhh!!

    Hasta later! ;-)

  2. Hmm, Debbie,

    Should we bring this news item to DH's attention ...

    Students at Gahanna Lincoln High School, Ohio, yesterday were greeted by a 2.15m statue of a rosy-cheeked lad that was pilfered from a Frisch's Big Boy restaurant. The 90kg, $9500 fiberglass figure of the chubby boy in red and white suspenders was reporting missing two days earlier. A school maintenance crew removed the statue with a forklift and returned it to the restaurant. The figure was not damaged.

    I didn't make that up, DH - and I want to know if you had a hand in it!

    Me no comprenda, indeed!


  3. Craver,
    So Shiak is fingernails ala chalkboard for you. Got it. I'll try to remember that when I parler avec vous.

  4. David,
    Oh my - truth is stranger than fiction! They could be DH's second cousins. Or maybe the otherwise innocent students at Gahanna Lincoln High have been corrupted by reading my blog. Uh oh!

  5. Deb,

    In the Philippines, all these girls who go to exclusive girls school have developed this thing called "Taglish", a combination of Tagalog (Filipino language) and English. It is quite hilarious sometimes.

    This reminds me though of what my mom and i used to do when the kids were smaller, we would spell the word hoping they would not understand, but they were smart! Something like:

    "Mom, I think Kris will ask for a C-O-K-E, please tell her she can't have it".

    memories keep coming back, and i like it!


  6. Ahhh yes. The spelling years. Most of my children have outgrown that handy little device.

    "Dear, should we order D-E-S-S-E-R-T or just stop for I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M on the way home?"

    Those were the days of innocence. I miss 'em.

  7. Me too. And my hubby doesn't even know French, so we can't hide our communication in another language *sigh*

  8. Eve,
    Speaking a language your hubby does not know can have its ups. I learned the word for 'turkey' in Hebrew while in college. Everytime DH bugged me while I was studying or what not, I'd call him a תרנגול-הודו (tarngol hodu). I told him it was a term of endearment.


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