Pasta in the polder

A while ago, I wrote about code-switching. It means to switch from one language to the other in a conversation. Especially multilingual people tend to do it and you can only do it right if you know both languages well. Some recent examples of my daughter code-switching:

“Mag ik een stukje Parmezaanse kaas? Maar niet grattuggiato hè?”
“Can I have a piece of Parmezan cheese? Not grated though”

“Ben je klaar met de storia?”
Have you finished the story?”

“Dat is niet groen, dat is menta”
That’s not green, that’s mint green”


Sometimes, switching between the languages goes beyond just swapping words or phrases in Dutch and Italian. My daughter also creates her own words in one language, based on the other language.

When a word is adopted from one language and incorporated in another language without translation, it’s called a loanword. Some simple examples of Italian loanwords in Dutch are ‘pasta’, ‘pizza’ and ‘cappuccino’. I also found a Dutch loanword in Italian: ‘polder’.

In the examples mentioned above, the original words aren’t being adapted before adopting them in the new language. There are also a lot of examples where there are some modifications to the original word. Nice examples of this form are the Italian words ‘babordo‘ and ‘tribordo‘ (from Dutch words ‘bakboord‘ and ‘stuurboord‘), which mean ‘port and starboard’.

My daughter uses her own loanwords. And even though I normally explain to her how she should express herself correctly, I secretly hope she continues to create sentences like these:

“Ik ga je een sorprees doen, niet kijken!”
“I’m going to surprise you, don’t look!”

“Even goed kijken of er geen spienetjes in deze vis zitten”
“Let me make sure there are no spines in this fish”

“Metto le scarpe dentro il bakko
“I’m putting the shoes in the basket”

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