Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sidebar: Schoolyard Creole

This evening, my daughter was showing me the latest clapping game that she plays with her schoolfriends during break. There's two really interesting things about these games and how they are played here right now.

Firstly, they are making a comeback. My sisters played them thirty years ago or more (it really is a girl thing) but they had disappeared over the intervening generation. What's brought them back? Immigration. Many kids have moved to Ireland from so many different countries - especially Poland - and they have brought back this really sweet schoolyard game with them.

Secondly, the game that my daughter showed me was in effect a kind of creole version of the game. Well this isn't linguistically correct of me - no new language was being created here - but the game now has a Polish language component to it (Nina (7) is very proud that she can pronounce the Polish 'perfectly' - according to her Polish friend Milena).

Given the very high numbers of Polish families in certain Irish towns (my one included) I wonder whether in a few years there'll be some new words in the local teenage lexicon whose roots will be clearly visible as Polish. I can't tell you how exciting a prospect this is, and how unimaginable it would have been just a decade ago.

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