For #100: Portrait of a polyglot.

Today is my 100th post.

I started my blog in June 2009 but I only paid sporadic attention to it until February 2011 when I really started writing. Slowly but surely, the total number of posts crept up until I found myself with just a handful to go before I hit 100.  I wanted to do something special.

The first thing I did was to make an honest blogger out of myself: I lopped off the ‘wordpress’ from my web address and officially became asalinguist.com. Huzzah!

Papa and me, dancing at my brother's wedding.

The second thing I did was to decide what to write about. I’ve mentioned my father previously, (here and here) which may make one conclude that I was somewhat of a Daddy’s girl. It’s a fair assessment. I am the youngest of five children – four sisters and one brother – and while my brother retains the title of Most Pampered (the only son of Portuguese parents), I came in a close second. Not only had my four older siblings broken my parents in for me, but my father was already 54 when I was born. Nice and mellow … no, not mellow. My father, Pedro, was stubborn, curious, mischievous, short-tempered, even laid-back about certain things, but not mellow. Still, his age must have softened him a bit, made it easier for him to be a little more playful and lenient with me than he’d been with my older sisters.

My status as a Daddy’s girl notwithstanding, I also chose to write about him because I write about language and he was a polyglot. Growing up with two parents who didn’t speak English natively certainly had an influence, but my mother’s English was so much more fluent and accurate that we sometimes forgot that she had to learn it as an adult. My father, however, learned it later and never as completely as my mother, and his other languages always played a larger role in his communication, and thus, his identity. I can’t write about language without addressing this early, critical influence in my life. Continue reading

It’s that old je ne sais what.

Once upon a time, there was a little criancinha,
Que estava pendurada from a little janelinha.
A policeman que passou said,
Qu’est-ce que tu fais ici, oh little criancinha?*
 

As many women grow older, they fear becoming their mothers. They see it in little things they say or in mannerisms they have seemed to pick up without noticing. It sneaks up on them like a predator, waiting to deliver the fatal blow when they realize that they’ve just made the same yukky face that they used to hate on their mothers’ faces.

Whew! Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that! I know I’m saved from that fate because it’s been clear to me for a long time that I am the female incarnation of my father, right down to the way my feet twitch when I’m bored or relaxed. This realization came to me hard, like a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, one day many years ago in grad school. Continue reading