My children think they live in a bi-lingual household. I constantly tell them that they only speak English but they are insistent.
‘But mummy we do speak two languages, English and ‘up north’.’
I remind them that I am from Leeds, which is not in another country and we speak English up there too.
‘No you don’t, you speak ‘up north’ language and it’s different,’ they say.
Ok, so I admit that my accent is a little different, though not as strong as it used to be, but I don’t have difficulty communicating with people on a daily basis, at least not now I have been living in the south east of England for the last fourteen years. I get by just fine.
The children like to talk ‘up north’ though because they like to be different. They don’t go to a carstle and sit on the grarss and they don’t have a barth before they go to bed as other people ‘down south’ would say. Their friends often try to correct them but they proudly say
‘That’s how you say it in ‘up north’. That’s the language my mum speaks.’
I don’t bother trying to set the record straight anymore. It certainly gives a new meaning to the north south divide!
There are lots of children in our area who have dual nationality parents and they genuinely do speak more than one language. It is amazing for our children to be surrounded by so much culture and encouraging that they are so interested in learning about other countries and languages. When I was growing up everyone around me sounded exactly the same and I genuinely didn’t even think I had an accent until I went to university and my friends thought that my accent was so funny they would do multiple impressions of it on a daily basis.
‘I surely don’t sound like that do I?’ I would say.
‘Yes you do,’ would be the unanimous response.
I even went to a job interview once where the MD blurted out
‘Are you northern?’ As if I had some medical affliction. I admitted that I was and hoped it would not be a problem. Thankfully it wasn’t and I got the job. But I never understood why she said that in the way she did.
My children are proud to have roots in another part of the country and that makes me proud too. They love going to visit their northern family and friends and I guess it is like visiting another country to them. You never know, the way they’re going they’ll all be speaking fluent ‘up north’ before we know it.
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