Songs by my Grandparents

My grandparents had a “brief” run of missionary work back in the day, when my dad was a young lad. Their language training, plus my dad’s years in Central America as a child, meant that I got a random spattering of Spanish in my own childhood (Southern NJ and Appalachian VA – decidedly non-Hispanic).

This meant two things. 1) a decent Spanish accent, including the ability to roll Rs. 2) children’s songs and hymns in Spanish.

The other day, driving home from my first week back at school after the holidays, I suddenly remembered the entire first verse of a song in grammatically correct Spanish. Where that came from, after two decades of mumbling Spanish-sounding nonsense to the right tune, I have no idea. But it came and it was amazing.

“Los pollitos dicen:
Pio! Pio! Pio!
Cuando tienen hambre,
Cuando tienen frio.”

“The little chicks say:
Peep! Peep! Peep!
When they are hungry,
When they are cold.”

Not a tough few lines, but I have never ever been able to remember the words, no matter how many times it was sung by grandparents, dad, or aunt and uncle.

Maybe after 4+ years on the border my brain is finally starting to click.

That’s what I’m going with, anyway.

You should probably make this your iPhone lockscreen.



3 thoughts on “Songs by my Grandparents”

  1. I’m impressed with your recall. Aunt Jen, too, found she retained a good accent even though she never actually spoke Spanish but was exposed to it as a 6 year old.

  2. That was Pop responding up there. I am also trying to jangle those Spanish synapses by taking a 20 week/ one evening a week, Spanish language course. We do conversational Spanish in a small class. The first week was fun! Mum

  3. Language is such a strange and mysterious thing. You go for awhile thinking it is like any other subject, but then strange events happen that tell you it is much, much older and much, much different than, say, History. So much of what happens with language happens in the deep recesses of our sub-conscious. Spooky sometimes. I remember Uncle Danny waking up from a coma talking in Spanish. It was 3 decades after he’d spoken Spanish regularly. There it all was, somewhere in his brain, largely intact.

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