Thursday, July 26, 2007

Karunga ya karungi? Khayunga ya Khayungi?

Its been so long when I've been trying to correct the usage of gender for verbs by Betu. In the beginning it would sound quite funny and we would have a hearty laugh. Slowly and slowly, we started to correct him but we were not reaching anywhere. So few days ago I got angry and made him stand in front of him and angrily told him that he is a boy and he is to speak 'karunga', 'khayunga', 'khelunga', dekhunga' etc. etc. For a minute he listened and then he cried. I was feeling bad inside but again I sternly told him that there's nothing to cry about and mumma is just teaching him to talk properly. And then I hugged him and made him sit in my lap and asked him "Aapko kya karna hai? Khelna hai?" To which he promptly responded "Haan! Main puzzle se khelungee!" I squared up my eyes, looked at him and asked "Kya?" He immediately corrected himself "khelunga. Main puzzle se khelunga!"

Its been so far so good. Every time he goofs up with the gender I just have to look at him and say "Kya?", "What?" or "Huh?" and he knows where he did wrong and immediately speaks the sentence again just fine. And there are times when he takes a pause midway in the sentence he's saying just before the verb and then says it correctly. :D

Yes, it definitely brings a big smile on my face that finally its working. But then there are two thoughts that crossed my mind when I thought about it again. Why was it that even after trying for months after months he didn't understand and one scolding and he's understood it perfectly fine?

I know scolding is not the right thing to do. In fact today in the morning when I was making him brush his teeth, he was crying as his usual. (If you remember I had posted in one of my earlier posts how he cries at brush-your-teeth times. ) And just then my papa called. He heard his wailing over the phone and asked me why is he crying and when I told him he said that I should control the scoldings that we give him. He said I will talk to you about it in person one day but try and not scold him so much. I've been trying to be more and more patient with him but I guess I still need to do a lot of work on myself in this matter.

The second thought that started going around in my mind was that why in the first place did he start speaking the wrong genders for the verbs? Its not that the house is full of females that he's picking up what they are saying. Its just me and DH and Anirudh in the house. Then why he picked up how I talk and not how his papa talks? Does that imply there's an imbalance in the amount of communications/conversations between Betu with mumma and Betu with papa? To some extent I'm sure its the case in every household. But do your children also do this gender mistake in their speech? Do the girls say 'karunga', 'khayunga'?

One reason which just struck me and which I can also attribute to is that he has female nannies in the daycare. So which maybe impacts his conversations with females more than males and that is why it could be so. However, most of his playmates in the schools are boys.

So do let me know how do your children speak and if they also do such gender mistakes while talking.


  1. Since I (unfortunately :()mainly talk to my betu in German, I dont have this problem, but I am trying to postulate if it is not just the amount of talking the people do but also what role they play in his life. Maybe, Papa is more of a friend, atleast as compared to you, THE Mumma, or the caretakers at school.
    Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much. Keep correcting him, but while you do that stay relaxed. Try to imagine how you woulkd feel if you were being talked to like this. Maybe then you can judge the situation better. As you are his mother and can judge best what is too much for him, what not.
    My experience has also been that sometimes when I get angry and tell Betu to do something correctly, it works better. But I still prefer avoiding geting angry.

  2. I am sorry, I can't help you out in this.

    LOL am a Southie, who while she can talk Hindi, keeps getting her genders mixed, and used to cause laughriots in her earlier company when she had to talk regularly to her colleague in Mumbai. Used to take all the ribbing in my stride good humouredly, and still persist in talking in Hindi.

    But please don't scold me now. Aren't I too old to be scolded?

    Dunno about generalitites, but at my place, Amma DOES exert a bigger influence with Sonny boy than Acha. so maybe its the same at your place?

  3. In fact, I wish someone would correct ME like that! I lived in Delhi for three and a half years when I was a kid, but got by speaking English. Bengali doesn't have gender inflections, so I still don't know where to use "-a" and when to use "-ee"!!!