Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perplexing Pronouns

When we first started studying Vietnamese, I was baffled by the use of pronouns. There is no general "you" or "your." Instead, pronouns are specific. In order to use them correctly, you have to know your hearer's age and gender. You also must gauge the person's relationship to you, being careful not to seem too intimate or too distant. I was forever coming across as either flirty or snooty because I lacked the subtle understanding of culture necessary to define a relationship in each and every conversation.

It makes English pronouns seem like child's play. Our verbs may require complex conjugation, but our pronouns are a breeze. At least, they are for an adult. A two-year-old apparently finds them more puzzling. This morning, Nathan and I were singing together (roughly to the tune of "Where Is Thumbkin")...
Me:  Where is Nathan?
          Where is Nathan?

Nathan:  Here me are.
                  Here me are.

Me:  How I want to kiss him.
          How I want to kiss him.

        I can't resist.
        I can't resist!!!

Nathan: (giggling and fleeing)