Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sapo Verde a Ti

Hang around us long enough, and you will eventually be here for a birthday. And we Kerrs don't settle for a standard "Happy Birthday" ...we may very well wish you a green frog: Sapo verde to you!

This started when we lived in Costa Rica, where, inexplicably, people preferred to sing "Happy Birthday" in English, or as close to English as they could. (I've encountered this attitude in many places, but a Portuguese friend explained it most succinctly: "When we get to heaven, we will speak in Portuguese. But we will still sing in English." All the good songs are in English. Now you know.) If you're familiar with a Latin American accent, you can start to see how, with some enthusiasm and vague familiarity with the words, happy birthday can start to sound like sapo verde. Green frog to you!

* * *

So Aiden is five now. He spent most of the day jumping around with a five-kilowatt grin on his face, just absolutely delighted to be FIVE. I gave him one present at breakfast (which also seems to be more Kerr family tradition than anything else) and by the time I got home from work, Paul and Martha were also there.

There were presents; there was cake.

There was a fun game of catch in the backyard with Aiden's new foxtail ball.

Wait, where's that ball going?

There was a lot of questionable throwing technique.

There was giggling and laughing until certain birthday persons could no longer stand up.

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent reading the "funny cat book" (Martha gave Aiden a Garfield compendium) to Aiden and Fiona. I'd forgotten how much I'd latched on to that comic when I was about that age. I didn't get half of it, fresh off the plane from Costa Rica (What's this "lasagna" they keep talking about? Wait, it's pronounced how?) but it didn't take long for me to catch on. I'd also forgotten how much physical humor there is in it; the kids think it's hilarious. I guess I've forgotten what it's like to be a kid.

...a kid who understood sapo verde, but not lasagna.

Wonder what our kids will think is perfectly normal?


Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

I was reading this post out loud to Adam and the family.

I got to your line "What's this 'lah-zag-nuh' they keep talking about? Wait, it's pronounced how?" and paused for dramatic effect.

Adam and I started cracking up and the baby was watching us like we're the new best thing on cable.

Meanwhile, my daughter solemnly responded, "It's pronounced 'luh-zahn-yuh' ... that's how."

Andy said...

Hah! That's too funny! I can just imagine it!

Jonadab said...

Heh, yes, the "know your etymology" rule of English pronunciation. I can see how that could catch you off guard at first. At least Garfield didn't go in much for French cuisine...

Jonadab said...

Incidentally, most American children are surprised by words like lasagna and bologna when they first encounter them in writing (typically on spelling lists, but not always). They know what the word means when they hear it, but then they have to learn how to spell it. (Something tells me Spanish-speaking school children probably don't spend as much time learning to spell their native language...)

Andy said...

Yeah, Spanish kids learn proper conjugation; spelling is pretty straightforward.

It took me a while to learn the pronunciation rules for reading German, French and Czech; I can stumble through Greek.

This reminds me of getting to Grace, and misreading "grandiose" as "grandoise" and pronouncing it as French ("gran-wah-zeh.") I think it was Andy Jentes who corrected me, saying, I think it's actually 'grandiose' but I dolike your pronunciation."