As if the Air Force wasn't doing its best to keep my linguistically confused by keeping my dad at bases in the deep South, my parent began to add to the confusion when I was eight. That summer, they decided that my sister and I need to learn about Europe. From their perspective,it was perfect timing because my mom's uncle was stationed in France with NATO.
My sister and I spent the summer touring France, absorbing culture and learning the language. I was confusing the Gawguh drawl with the Japanese lilt while trying to say 'manifique'. It wasn't a pretty sound :-) We returned to Keesler on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I had ditched the Elmer Fudd sound but still still drawled like a native Mississippian.
Mom and dad added insult to injury the following summer. Close family friends had been sent to the Embassy in Uruguay as the Military Attache. Guess where my sister and I went? Yep. Montevideo, Uruguay. Now, I was confusing Japanese, Gawguh, Mississippi and Spanish. Somewhere in there, English was becoming a mixture of English and the language of the moment.
Do I remember any of the Japanese, French or Spanish? No. No one else spoke them well enough for me to retain fluency :-( My lasting memory of Montevideo is a Tupemaro guerilla attack not far from our friends' home. We jumped into a car and raced to the embassy for safety.
© 2003 Maggie Rice