Monday, May 10, 2010

Dear Native English Speakers

When Swedes want to talk about secret stuff in the presence of children, we invariably turn to English. This serves two purposes: 1. It works so well. 2. It speeds up the children's interest in learning English.

What language do you switch to? Have you tried Mandarin?

Repeat after me:

(mandarin speakers, feel free to correct my grammar).


  1. I guess we're burning our bridges in that regard. We're teaching our boys all the languages we can muster at the dinner table.

  2. this is going to sound totally pretentious, but my friends and i speak, combined, spanish, german, french, italian, arabic, and finnish. so we have each taught each other certain phrases in the each language (and we all speak intermediate italian). we use a combination of these languages/phrases when we want to be secretive, and NOBODY know what we're talking about! granted, it's going to be hard to replicate when we no longer live with each other :)

  3. Luke and I have been married so long that most of our communication has been reduced to grunts and squeaks undecipherable to anyone else, regardless of age.

  4. ice cream after dinner?!? yummm.

    don't have kids yet, but the go-to-language will invariably be mandarin, as my future (third generation chinese) children will most likely not be able to pick it up.

  5. My mother and grandmother used to discuss our Christmas presents right in front of us all the time, in French. I think that's why my oldest two sisters ended up taking French in school.

  6. my parents always used to say 'Pas devant les enfants' when we were kids.

    My mother said it without thinking once in front of my children, then she clapped her hands in front of her mouth in horror and said 'I forgot it doesn't work with them!'

  7. I worked in Sudan a few years ago with people who were from several different languages. They spoke to each other secretly in Afrikaans, in Swahili, in Arabic, in Dinka, in German...and there I was with my friend, English-only speakers, speaking the language everyone understood. When we wanted to tell secrets, we spoke broken high-school Spanish and then resorted to pig-latin...sometimes even just spelling messages to each other quickly (ie: I C-A-N-T B-E-L-I-E-V-E...) hoping to confuse our English-language-learning friends. Let's just say, not a lot of secrets told that year...

  8. very good, you have an A in mandarin.


    They dinner after can get some ice cream


I welcome any comment, so happy to hear from you.