So as I stated in my last post that my wife is pregnant with our first child. Sunday morning she woke up speaking Estonian around the kitchenette-cum-livingroom. This is unusual. She explained she wanted the baby to get used to her speaking Estonian. It's a bit of a silly explanation as she speaks Estonian anyway all day outside home, be it with her folks or at work or at the market, etc. But it was good for me to get some quickfire practice.
There will be a great linguistic change coming in our family soon. As I have written before we want to raise our children bilingually in Estonian and Irish. My wife will speak only Estonian to the child and the plan is that I will speak only Irish. To each other we will continue to speak English as we always have.
The thing is that Estonian is my wife's native language, whereas I haven't a clue of any children's stories, songs, riddles or jokes in Irish as I was neither raised nor educated in Irish. I simply picked it up as I went through life, formally as a pseudo-foreign language at school and then later off my own bat in my twenties.
But practice is scare. The last time I spoke Irish was in August 2012 in Berlin to a group of linguistics researchers from Ireland's west university, which borders an Irish speaking area, NUIG. I felt woefully out of my comfort zone however, and struggled to get the words out or follow conversations. Before that I spoke Irish in November 2011 when I was interviewed for the state's Irish language radio station and also in October of the same year when I met a researcher from Ireland at a conference in Estonia.
So acquiring the Irish to raise a child through it is going to be a struggle, but I am committed to doing so. Over the half-year before the baby is born I am going to have to learn all those vocabulary items around babies, children and the home. I mean, I know that madra is the standard way to say 'dog' and that gadhar is a dialectal alternative, but how does one say 'doggie' in Irish? Bobbi, blankie, nom-nom.....?
I think I will be learning almost as much as the child.