I speak English at home but… if I had a time machine I would go back to the time when I was a little girl and I would beg my Mother and all my family members to speak to me in our native tongue – Tongan.
Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne you can often be mistaken as being ‘true blue’ Australian unless you are obviously different.
If you have different skin colour, a foreign sounding name, a thick accent, pack strange food for lunch at school and/or dressed differently from other kids.
Now I’ve addressed a lot of these differences in previous posts.
I have a standard Western sounding maiden name: Belinda Maxine Wardell, got a fair complexion and I was dressed like a typical 90s kid – happy pants, shoulder pad blazers and frilly socks (thanks Mum!)
Nothing wrong with all that although I do wish I could speak another language.
Have you ever boarded a train and then there’s a conversation that you can’t tune into because they’re speaking in Hindi or entered an elevator and the Chinese couple are having a spirited conversation while you’re standing their twiddling your thumbs 😉
Knowing another language and speaking it confidently is a blessing!
If you speak your own language then I would encourage you to grow and nurture your children’s interest in speaking your native tongue.
I can remember in school that some kids had ‘Language School’ on Saturday mornings to keep their native language ‘alive’.
There was Greek School in Coburg, Chinese School all over Melbourne and now there’s a great Pacific community that I’m familiar with that offer an educational service – Polynesian Kids Community Language School 🙂 Check them out!
I can speak English and understand bare minimum Tongan.
When I was being naughty and being told off by my Mother it was in Tongan.
When I was at Church some services were conducted in Tongan and I learnt prayers by rote although I didn’t understand everything that was being said.
What’s even more heart breaking is when my maternal grandmother visits from overseas she cannot communicate with me as much as we both would love to because her English is basic and my Tongan is even worse!
We try and gesture to each other and show other signs of affection but in the end we resort to having a translator help us out 🙁
Another interesting observation is that there is some ‘lost in translation’ moments. Some words within a language don’t quite mean the same or have the same effect if it was translated into English.
For example if there was a joke in Tongan the same funny sentence translated into English isn’t funny because the translation is too literal.
**RECOMMENDATION – I have come across a handy app that can walk you through lots of different languages. Duolingo – check it out!
Unfortunately Tongan is not available. Might have to work on my Spanish instead 🙂
Although I’m thankful that I do come from a heritage that is family focused and provides social support for me and my family it would mean more to me if I could speak the language fluently…. and more importantly talk openly with my Grandma without the translator.
P.S Sending out all our love and prayers to families and loved ones in Tonga as Cyclone Gita passed through 2 days ago.
‘Ofa lahi atu/All our love!