Mind Your Language

Minding your Ps and Qs is something all parents need to be aware of especially when the toddler is like a parrot…

I admit that I can swear with the best of them. Having worked in various industries for so many years I certainly use “industrial language” far more often than I should.

The problem now of course is that Dani will repeat everything he hears. Just because he has not immediately repeated something you have said does not mean he has not heard it. He is now remembering everything. He will throw a word or phrase in randomly and when you least expect it. He is somehow managing to do that in two languages as well. What remarkable ability kids have at that age!

It the English words and phrases I am most concerned about. Or should I say “to blame for”?


The other day while I was driving Dani was sat in the back with his grandmother. He hardly stopped jabbering and singing along (in his own way) to songs on the radio. Then suddenly he switched to repeatedly saying Eff Off! Fortunately his grandmother’s English is not that good. What shocked me most however was that I honestly think I have not used that exact phrase around him. Hardly, if at all. I do freely admit to using derivations of that well known phrase. One of which I was obviously using too much. He started saying it in context at exactly the right time – just before I was about to say it. So I have been making a conscious effort not to say that particular expression of exclamation or despair (i.e. Effin hell).

Clearly he had picked up on one of my odd uses of the FO phrase and had remembered it. But why would he suddenly start shouting it repeatedly? I know they say that the best way to learn language is to repeat what you hear and as we all know “practice makes perfect”. Even so that was a bit extreme.

I definitely need to be more careful from now on. The thing is all these words – and more no doubt – are already in Dani’s memory bank. I have no idea when he might suddenly decide that their use is appropriate. It is not like I can simply delete them like some contact in a mobile phone address book.


So what do you do?

The best way with Dani seems simple enough. Immediately throwing back another word or phrase repeatedly. In the case of the car incident that word was “hotdog” for some unknown reason.

It worked though. “Eff Off” became “Hotdog”!

Amazing. Now where’s the effing mustard?

That could backfire spectacularly however. I now have an image of us in a park passing a hotdog stall. The seller shouts out “Hey kid. Do you want a hotdog?”. Dani replies “F*** off!”. Best avoid hotdog stands if possible.

Of course the only real solution to this problem is to mind your language. I am trying. Honestly.

Cultural differences….

Now; for a little cultural diversion please read on…

Swearing in Spanish is noticeably different. It is just as common but what we consider to be really bad words are not necessarily so in Spanish. A good example is the “C” word. In the English speaking world this is the one that regularly tops of the “most offensive” list. In Spain the equivalent word is coño (pronounced conyo) and while it is not exactly a normal word it’s use is considered far less offensive. You might easily hear grandmothers saying it to their little grandkids – as in “Come on! Hurry up coño”. Although not in the case of Dani’s grandparents I hasten to add.

In complete contrast hostia, the white communion bread used in church, is also considered a strong swear word in Spain. I suppose it must be the blasphemous use of a holy word.

Blimey! Who’d have thought?

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