Sunday, February 1, 2009

Interview with Relyn

questions questions by Rock Alien at flickr

Our neighborhood of the blogosphere has caught an interview virus. Relyn at Come Sit By My Fire caught it from Willow of Life at Willow Manor and I caught it from Relyn. The idea is that Relyn offered to interview those who choose to participate. Participants, in turn, will offer to interview their readers. The rules are at the end of this post.

I decided ask Relyn to interview me. Thank you Relyn for your thoughtful questions! Here are three of her five questions.

1. You can I know that you are fluent in more than one language. Please tell us about that. How many languages do you speak and read? Do you have much occasion to use languages other than English in your current daily life? Do you find yourself thinking in your original language or in English? (OK. I can count. I know that's three. What can I say? I'm interested.
I don’t speak as many languages as you would think.

photo by yeowatzup at flickr

I was born in Java, Indonesia where we spoke Indonesian which is a derivative of Malay.

Photo by thegshow at flickr

When I was almost six years old we moved to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. My father was eager for us to learn Dutch, because he wanted us to succeed in school, so he spoke exclusively Dutch to us as soon as we were able to comprehend it. My mother had no interest in perpetuating Indonesian in our household since she didn’t have very many good memories from seven years in Java. It didn’t take long for me to almost entirely loose the Indonesian language, except I can still order from an Indonesian menu. I’m very grateful for this skill because Indonesian food is spectacularly delicious.

Photo by FogBay

When I was eleven we moved to the US. We all regretted that my sisters and I did not retain Indonesian, so when we came to America we did make an effort to continue to speak Dutch. My Dutch is not very good any more because it’s been over forty years since I last lived in Holland. When I speak Dutch to a native speaker, I get a lot of funny looks. Once, a Dutch friend said to me, “Speaking to you is like speaking to a time capsule”.

Another one said, “What are you, eighty years old?”

All living languages evolve over time but since I am not exposed to Dutch very much, my Dutch vocabulary never grew or evolved, and in fact seriously faded. We don’t go back to the Netherlands very often, but when we do, it takes a couple of days for the Dutch to reply back in Dutch to me. When they hear my fractured attempt, they automatically speak in English to me. It’s humiliating.

When my daughter was born, I intermittently spoke Dutch to her for the first couple of years of her life but she really didn’t tolerate it very well. She would squeeze my lips together and say, “No, Mommy, no”. When my son was born, I resolved to speak Dutch to him one hundred percent of the time. I lasted until he was about three or four years old, but my Dutch was not strong enough to carry on a nuanced conversation. I rarely speak Dutch to my kids any more, strictly due to my laziness, but they both understand my personal “eighty-year-old” version of Dutch.

Every few months I get a stack of Dutch gossip magazines passed down from one of my mother’s friends. I try to plow through them before I get the next stack. It’s not my first choice of reading but it can be very entertaining to read about Madonna, Brad and Angelina from the Dutch point of view.

As for other languages, I took French in junior high, German in high school, a couple of quarters of French in college, and one semester of Italian at a local community college just prior to our trip to Italy in 2005. Of these, German is my strongest language, but it’s nothing to brag about. I’m told I speak German with a Dutch accent even though I learned it in America.

With the exception of a few unique words or phrases here and there, I think exclusively in English.

2. You have excellent taste in children's and young adult literature. How did that come about? What is it about that genre that appeals to you?

Peggy Rathmann's Officer Buckle and Gloria

When we lived in Amsterdam, my father was a scientific editor for Elsevier, a very old publishing company, so were surrounded by books at all times. I still own the two volumes of fairy tales that I read over and over again as a child. Books are great tools to teach, comfort, and inspire anybody, but I believe they are especially important for children.

I have many fond memories of reading to my children when they were younger. We read every night at bedtime; it is a fantastic way to end the day on an up note. When the kids were in the picture book phase, we went to the children’s library every Wednesday afternoon and we usually checked out forty books, the maximum allowed. It didn't take long for us to all forty books every week.

My favorite gifts for babies and young children are books because you can never have too many books. As a consequence, people often ask me for book recommendations for their children. Now I list many children’s and young reader books on my Goodreads list, so I just give them a link.

My hope is that my children will be lifelong readers.

  3. You have traveled extensively, including time in the Galapagos Islands. Please tell us your favorite travel destination and share why you love it so much.

My favorite travel destination is my next destination. I know that’s cheating, but since you cheated on the number of questions…

The reason why I say that is that I’m always yearning to see new places, meet new people, observe new animals, buy new things, eat new foods, touch new buildings, see new art, and experience new experiences. I enjoy the planning of a trip almost as much as going on the trip itself. Now, with blogging, I think I will enjoy reliving it and sharing it as another dimension of the trip.

I am currently making our summer plans, but I'm not quite ready to reveal the destination yet. It will be a surprise.

Next time I will answer Relyn's remaining two questions.

If you would like to be interviewed by me, leave me a note in the comment section. Give me a few days to send your five questions. Here's the scoop:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

This is a fun post - great to learn more about...
I love hearing about other people's nomadic and multi cultural lives - it would seem there are many of us in the blogosphere..:)

Ruth said...

"No mommy no" - so cute! I can see my daugher saying that when she was that age.

I always give books as gifts to kids too.

How great to read about your very interesting life - and these are only a few lines about it!

Ruth said...

Oh and I love to plan trips too, for others as much as for myself. Wish I could make a living at it.

christina said...

Oh, thank you for sharing! I loved learning a bit more about you. I love meeting new people and eating new foods also. So much of the world I haven't experienced yet.

; )

Yoli said...

Oh how I loved this!!!!

A Cuban In London said...

What an insightful interview! It is always nice to know the person inside the blogger :-)

Greetings from London.

Char said...

great interview

Dutchbaby said...

Dear HTE...
Don't you get the feeling that there's a disproportionate number of us in the blogosphere? I think it's because the borders are so blurred here.

Dear Ruth,
It seemed like yesterday when she said that; now she's seventeen!

Isn't armchair traveling the best?

Dear Christina,
You are most welcome; thank you for listening!

So many places - so little time!

Dear Yoli,
Thank you so much!

Dear Cuban,
Relyn's quite talented, don't you think?

Dear Char,
Thank you and thanks to Relyn!

Relyn Lawson said...

Oh, DB. I wrote you the loveliest long comment and the blankety-blank-blank computer ate it. Now I am frustrated and tired. I think I will go to bed and try again tomorrow. Love you. And this post.

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved learning all this about you! That's funny about the Dutch reaction to you speaking Dutch. Having a lot of Dutch friends, I think they start speaking English not to humilate you, but to speak in the language that's easiest for you. Then again, my Dutch friends are fairly blunt; not known for their subtlety. But I love 'em! That's funny about your daughter's reaction to a second language. My daughter spoke and read Arabic fluently as a child; alas, she has forgotten most of it, although she retains her French skills. As for your belief that one can never have enough books, my sentiments exactly! Reading is so important from infancy (being read to).

robin laws said...

i'm not sure i was supposed to be chuckling along as i read this but i was :) 80 year old dutch.... ;) you do persevere! i am mightily impressed with your determination to give your children the gift of language. it is good to find out more about you dear diana. this is a good prep course for me ;)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
I hope you had sweet dreams!

Dear Tara,
I understand that the Dutch were only being kind. My humiliation is strictly self-induced.

I guess I'm not surprised that the Dutch are known for their bluntness. I'm glad that I now have an excuse!

Arabic?! That's impressive! Does that mean you speak/write Arabic as well? How many talents can one body hold?

Dear Robin,
Chuckling is always encouraged! Anyone who laughs at my lame attempts of humor is golden in my book.

rochambeau said...

All great. Loved learning more about you!!

Really also glad to know about your eighty year old Dutch, why it tickles me is:

I used to practice my French on my French friend Anne Marie, who managed a French Bakery. I would memorize something new off of my French instructional tapes (probably circa 50's or 60's). Each day I would show up with a new sentence, that would make her laugh so hard, then it would make me laugh, till we cried. All this to say I speak a little 80 year old French~

Have a fun day~~~

Dutchbaby said...

Dear rochambeau,

Glad to learn that we are my 80-year-old sisters :)

Thanks so much for making the detour to read this post, Constance.

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