When a family migrates, the members who pick up the local lingo first and best are generally the children, and they soon become little interpreters. My wife wrote letters to the Swedish authorities for her Chinese dad from the time she was 11. And when time rolled around for the biannual talk with the teachers about each pupil’s scholastic progress, she was accompanied by her sister (1Â½ years older). I hear that such a setup, with all that it means for power relations in the family, can be a big problem for men from more strongly patriarchal traditions.
We’re planning Juniorette’s seventh birthday party, and we’re a little late. So instead of sending cards I called every family on the guest list. When I called little Juanita’s home, she picked up the phone herself. I identified myself as Juniorette’s dad and asked to talk to mom or dad. Juanita replied in a very civil tone and with perfect pronunciation that Mother doesn’t like to talk to telephone salesmen. After a little extra explanation, comprehension dawned and Juanita seamlessly switched into interpreter mode. I heard the mother in the background speaking Spanish (which I understand reasonably well if spoken slowly but cannot speak myself), and then I got a flawless Swedish interpretation from Juanita. At one point I got to talk a little to the mother myself, but it wasn’t any use.
Anyway, I think I got the message across. But just to make sure, I’ve written an invitation in English, run it through Google Translate to make some kind of Spanish of it, and printed it out. I’m cycling over to put it in their mail box.