Monday, 12 May 2008

Father's Tongue

Last night, while listening to Dylan’s chatter over the phone, my mother told me that when my brother and I were Dylan’s age we used to constantly ask for objects we wanted by pointing at them and saying “Et Ze”. I found this bit of trivia quite amazing, and not because this Hebrew phrase roughly means “that” in English.
I found it amazing because when Dylan is interested in an object, he tends to point at it with his right hand finger and repetitively say “Tse”. The distance between “Et Ze” and “Tse” is pretty minor and could be attributed to my mother’s obvious prejudice towards the Hebrew language; the thing is, although Dylan is exposed to Hebrew, his exposure is limited to me alone and I never taught him those specific Hebrew words. Nor did I have the opportunity to use these words around home, as the only time I speak Hebrew is with relatives over the phone (bear in mind my Neanderthal family hardly ever uses Skype), and I doubt the word “Ze” would come up often in my conversations. What I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing around Dylan that could have taught him the use of the expression “Tse”.
I know it’s tough to conclude much from one baby, but isn’t it amazing that three babies have associated the same meaning with roughly the same expression, when, it seems, their only common denominator is sharing some of the same genes (50% of Dylan’s genes are an exact copy of mine, and roughly 25% of his genes are shared with my brother)?
I wonder if there is something to this theory and whether our genes do have such a dominant effect on our languages.

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