Lou Lou’s Languages

First of all, I cannot begin to express how much my heart melts reading all of your lovely and supportive comments. I feel lonely, but it’s comforting to open up my email and read your words of love and support. I know I mocked the iPhone not long ago, but its cool to lay down in my bed, curled up in a ball in tear, but having your sweet comment right there with me.

As promised, I might do a few posts throughout the week about my dad. I don’t think I’ll do it everyday, but for sure once or twice a week.

Welcome to the first one.

I cant get enough of this picture

I never mentioned this but my dad’s name is Lou Lou. Actually its his nickname, short for Leon which was his given name. Later, that changed to Arieh, but he’ll always be Lou Lou. Even though I call him Aba. But only I can call him that πŸ˜›

Anyhow……I was BEYOND relieved when I got a phone call from my dad this morning saying he wanted me to bring him some juice and ice cream on my way to visit him. I started crying on the phone because the surgeon said he may not be able to talk again after such a risky surgery in the language area of the brain….which bring me to today’s post.

My dad’s languages.

My dad’s Belgian. You can read this post to read more about that. So his first language was Flemish. How do you speak Flemish? The dirty little secret is thatΒ Flemish and Dutch are really the same language. Yes, I know that all the Belgians will kill me for writing that, but the differences between Flemish and DutchΒ are only as big as that between American and British English. Flemish/Dutch consits largely of the consonants v,s,c,h,r and k. Dutch is surprisingly easy to learn. Simply fill your mouth with chips and then speak English and German simultaneously without breathing.

Oh my goodness, look at those late 80's airplane earphones! We look like doctors!

My dad’s Β second language is French. But I think he’s actually most comfortable in it. Its the language he speaks with his childhood friends. Granted, Belgians tend to speak french with a “Belgian” accent but my dad can fake a “Parisian French” accent. So he blends well with the French and Belgians. Not so much with the British because I don’t think the British are fond anything associated with the French.

My dad’s third (possible tie with second though) is Hebrew. He moved to Israel with his parents when he was three. I think my grandparents didn’t like living there very much because they moved back to Belgium when he was six. But at least it added another language on his belt. He later went to do his undergrad in Israel so the Hebrew for sure came in handy!

My dad’s forth language is Polish. The crazy thing is he has never set foot in Poland. Ever. He knows it because his parents spoke it to one another. I guess they were hoping he wouldn’t pick it up, but he did.

My dad’s fifth language is German. My Grandfather was indeed from Poland, but my Grandmother was from Germany. A “Berliner” (did someone get that Kennedy reference? Sorry, American history junkie). Since my grandmother was a stay at home mom, and my dad an only child, you can bet your German ass she instilled German in him.

Finally, my dad’s sixth language is English. I’m not sure when he learned English but I’m assuming in elementary school in Belgium. Dutch is a lot like English, so it wasn’t a stretch for him. He moved to the US in the seventies and did his masters at UCLA in the eighties (around the time I was born). He does have a slight accent, but no one has a clue what sort of accent it is.

Out of all these languages I really only know Hebrew fluently (and I can read and write which is SO difficult!). I don’t like to say I speak French because I don’t practice it very much these days. But I understand it. My Dutch is terrible, I need people to speak SUPER slowly for me to understand. My dad claims that I have no accent when I speak it but I think he’s totally lying. I’ll just stuff those chips in my mouth and speak English.

More recipes tomorrow. Recipe development has taken a back seat but I have a few recipes on reserve. Anyhow, do you speak any other languages? What would you like to learn? I always wanted to learn Port

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46 thoughts on “Lou Lou’s Languages

  1. I love those pictures, and it warms my heart to learn more about your dad.
    I’m very close to my dad so I guess I just feel more connected to you by reading about you and your dad (I first felt connected because we have similar humour. oh, and food. that too!).

  2. Wow, your dad is…crazy. That’s a LOT of languages?

    I only speak, read, write English, Korean, and Chinese. I took AP Spanish and can read and somewhat understand, but I think the Spanish-speaking people would prefer I say I don’t know Spanish. πŸ˜‰

    I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese because it sounds cute (though it’s useless) and I’d love to learn Greek so I can read the original bible.

  3. I know your father that well, you know, Im the one who speeks with chips in his mouth , the Dutchman. I think your fathers first language in which he also dreams is french. When we speak we speak we talk in four languages at the same time : Dutch/English/French German and Flamish: his accent is perfect. Please give your father a big hug from me ” and say: “c’est de ton Frere en Pays Bas” Dear Eden, stay strong ! we are always close to you ! you know that !! I left you a voice mail. Stan. (don’t like chips by the way)

  4. It’s great news that your dad came through surgery Eden, and asking for ice cream! The relief at this stage must be enormous. I know you still have a tough time ahead, but hopefully this is some of the worst behind you now.

    And your dad — my God, he’s a language superstar! He should come back on work for the EU πŸ˜‰

    This about Dutch especially made me laugh:
    “Simply fill your mouth with chips and then speak English and German simultaneously without breathing.”
    I speak German, and can read Dutch very easily. But to listen to I’m like “wha… !?!?”

    I hope writing this post was in some way soothing, and put a smile on your face. It certainly did on mine πŸ™‚

  5. Girl, your dad has SKILLZ. I can only dream about learning that many languages…after all I can barely handle English. And maybe a smattering of italian. He’s amazing!

    And seriously, you gotta love a man who calls in an ice cream request from the hospital. That’s how I know you two are related. πŸ˜›

  6. oh my dad speaks german, but thats about it. I took french. I wonder if I could talk to your dad in french? hehe. I love that you are sharing this. Its so comforting.
    πŸ™‚

  7. I took French in high school & remember a little of it (and I do mean a little…I can tell people my name, ask for a wash room, and that’s about it!)…My grandma’s parents were German & Dutch and she tried teaching me German when I was little, but I never picked up on it. When I was working fast food, I picked up on some Spanish, even a couple different dialects (we had people from Guatemala & Dominican Republic working for us), although I’ve forgotten most of that as well. My roommate in college spent a semester in Italy, and ever since she came back, I’ve wanted to learn Italian. The guy I dated in college considered converting to Judaism for a couple years, and we took some classes at one of the temples, where I started to learn a bit of how to read, write & speak Hebrew. And lastly (because I really want to monopolize your comments page today), I would also love to learn Greek. When I was a sophomore in high school, my history teacher made all of us memorize the Greek alphabet, which we then had 60 or 90 seconds to rattle off. We also had to be able to spout off the correct characters from flash cards he’d show, and we had to get at least 3 right in order to pass. So while I can recognize all the Greek letters, I have no real idea how to pronounce them or how they fir together.

  8. I speak English. Which is basically it. Which is lame. I lived in Denmark for awhile when I was younger and I spoke Danish fluently, but my parents didn’t, so when we moved back I totally lost it. However, anytime we go back, I start to pick it up again, so maybe if I just stayed there for a few months I’d be able to? And I’ve taken French for five or six years, and it’s actually what I want to major in in college, but I have the WORST accent. So frustrating.

  9. I am so relieved to hear that you got that phone call. Seriously, that’s huge.

    I’ve been thinking about you and having friends pray for you and send good thoughts your way.

    And all those languages–holy! Your dad (and you) are incredibly smart. Here’s some fun trivia for you: My last name means bird in Polish.

  10. That is awesome that he’s wanting you to bring him juice! Wonderful that he can talk – that is great! I am so loving these pictures of you and your Dad. I always loved them before but they are even more heartwarming now!! We will all keep praying that he will just keep getting better!
    And yes the IPhone is wonderful in times like these, I would be lost without mine (using it now!).

    The only language I speak is “southern” (but I guess that can be considered a foreign language to some! πŸ˜‰ )

  11. I speak Spanish and I LOOOOVE the language (and the whole Spanish/Latin culture really). I get nervous to speak it in front of anyone except my students, however, but when I was in Mexico last year, I got really good at (mock) arguing in Spanish. πŸ™‚ Let me tell you, it’s a LOT more fun that arguing in English. More need for gesticulation and such.

    I’ve wanted to make the transition to Italian. I like languages that are “BIG” and beg to be spoken with lots of arm-waving and expression.

  12. Your dad sounds simply amazing. Okay, wait, not simple at all. Epically awesome. Five languages? Seriously? I’m still trying to master English.

    I can’t imagine the joy you must have felt when your dad called asking for ice cream. It sounds like this tiny random thing, but really it is a huge deal! I’m glad he is doing well with speech and appetite!

  13. Wonderful news about your dad! I imagine I would have been boo hooing too and with good reason. What a relief that he can still talk to you. I know you still have a long road ahead, but this is definitely progress.

    I only know English. I learned Spanish in highschool, but once I graduated I forgot ALL of it. I wish I wouldn’t have though because it sure could have come in handy sometimes.

    So not only is your dad a handsome man, but knows many languages and is super smart too. He’s the total package!

  14. I’m glad your dad is well enough to speak and that you’re well enough to speak (type)
    Your dad sounds amazing. You should record him speaking in each language. That would be neat to hear! I’m always fascinated by other languages. I can speak some Spanish and I’m very fluent in elf language. Elfelf lelfanguelfage. πŸ™‚

  15. Wow, that is REALLY impressive, most people couldn’t dream of being half that accomplished linguistically. If I had 3 wishes for ways to instantly improve myself, one of them would be to become fluently multilingual like that. I can muddle my way around Spanish, but that’s about it. I lived in Germany for a few years as a kid, and became semi-fluent in conversational German (kids are sponges for language), but never learned to read or write it, and 15 years later most of it has left me. Plus, we lived in the south, so I picked up the Bavarian accent, which apparently isn’t all that popular/respected in other parts of the country.

    SO glad that your dad was able to call you and ask for his snacks! That’s a great sign, I hope that he is doing well today. Hang in there chica. ❀

  16. It’s so nice to read stories about your dad. I’m so happy that there has been some good news from the surgery, and continue to think of you and send “good intentions/ prayers” your way. I’m cracking up at your description of speaking dutch by putting chips in your mouth and not breathing and then speaking two languages at once πŸ™‚

    And I have to say you’re right about that first picture, it should be in a huge frame somewhere if it isn’t already.

    Hang in there darlin’ πŸ™‚

  17. Dear Eden, I am beyond happy that your father is doing well. I hope all the tumor is out, and that it’s bening.
    It breaks my heart seing you having such a hard time, and remembering all the beautiful things about your father. I’ve lost mine 3 years ago, and I know how all this hospital drama is hard. Just take care of yourself, and give your father tons of love, hugs and kisses.

    I speak my native language,Croatian πŸ™‚ Then English, some German, and tiny bit of Italian. I also know some Latin πŸ˜€

  18. Wow, your dad is brilliant! I could never handle all those languages. And it is great that your dad was able to talk so soon after the surgery. Keeping you two in my thoughts!

  19. Um, that’s pretty awesome – I can barely speak English properly half the time. <–being a prime example. And those headsets, I hated them!! They poked my ear in all the wrong places. What a pain!

    For what it's worth, you and your family are in my thoughts. πŸ™‚

    • Everyone in the hospital has been saying that to him! His head is swollen so he resembles him even more now (we always joked that DeNiro was slightly chubbier, a la Raging Bull). I’m sure my dad would want to meet you too! I think he’s seen pictures of penny because he loves dogs and I’ve showed them to him before!

  20. Given your father’s serious strength is language it seems like his brain is saying a big “F U” to that tumor because there is no way it’s going to take down his skill at talking! I’m seriously impressed that you dad knows 6 languages! I took French and Spanish in high school and college and remember nothing. Does he switch back and forth between them? I am amazed how people can be speaking in Spanish and then switch to English within the same sentence.

  21. That’s great that your Dad is doing better than possibly expected! I can only understand English but I am Jewish so I can read Hebrew. (thanks to my Bat Mitzvah) but I don’t understand Hebrew. If someone started speaking it to me I would have no idea what they were saying but I can open up a prayer book and read it perfectly. Does that make sense?

  22. So happy to hear some good news about your dad.
    I’m a little confused. Your dad changed his name from Leon to Arieh, but he is still known as Lou Lou…but why did he change his name? Just personal preference? Am I missing something and asking a really dumb question? Probably, but I’m asking it anyway..
    I’m Canadian so we had to learn French in school, and I took Spanish in university, but I barely remember either of them. I also speak a tiny bit of Hebrew and I can read it, but I don’t understand most of what I read. Do you and your dad speak to each other in Hebrew?

    • His given name when he was born was “Leon”. Generally, Loulou is short for leon. When he moved to Israel, they translated Leon to Arieh (both mean “lion”). I know, he’s like a con man with his names!

  23. so cool about your dad!! your dad and my dad would get along great. My dad knows many languages as well, one of the being Latin!!! I used to know Spanish and Italian and hope one day to learn them again.

  24. I’m so happy you got to hear from your father! I couldn’t help but smile when I read that. I’m still smiling! The pictures that you have are absolutely adorable.
    It is so fascinating how many languages your Dad knows. Yesterday I saw a presentation on how Americans don’t master nearly as many languages as Europeans do. I wish I could have been exposed to more languages at a young age, and I guess I still have time, but it’s not the same teaching yourself as it is through life experiences.

  25. Eden, I don’t know if I’ve ever fallen in love with someone from A BLOG, but I think I love your dad. I at least adore him. These pictures are truly worth 10billion words, he just is so clearly the most loving father ever! look at those scrunched noses touching!

    The pic on the plane is stunning — because he looks like you! like you as an adult, of course.

    I’m so happy there was good news today. I’m rooting for him so SO hard.

  26. That is simply amazing that your dad speaks so many languages, and that you speak Hebrew!!!!!! I have no idea what it sounds like and would love to hear some!!

    My heart smiled when you said your dad called you and asked for ice cream and juice πŸ™‚ That is such good news, and I am happy for you both.

    I only speak English, but I would really like to speak another language. I really admire people who can learn languages easily or speak more than one language.

  27. I am SOO happy that your dad is doing well after his surgery!!! πŸ™‚

    I think that it is special how you are honoring your dad by doing posts about him. That’s amazing how many languages he knows! It makes me feel like such a slacker that the rest of the world knows a few languages, and all we really learn in the US is English. I can understand a lot of Spanish (my parents are pretty fluent) and I’ve learned a bit of German (my grandpa was Austrian).

  28. wow, that’s impressive! He should work for the U.N. I’m fluent (humm….it’s questionable) in Spanish and I’ve studied French, but have forgotten most of it. I have no accent in any language, which is rather bad for the romance languages. I would like to learn German and I feel like I should know Hebrew, but at this point I would rather focus on improving my French and Spanish.

  29. Wow, your Dad is one smart cookie and one tough cookie too. I loved meeting him yesterday and I think that he was very dapper even with a huge scar on his head. And you are right- accent was unplaceable, but very charming πŸ™‚

    Love the photo of you in bizness class! πŸ™‚

    • My mom’s accent was even more unplaceable.It was more subtle than my dad’s but I used to make fun of their accents as a kid and told them they should just adopt an obvious accent already.

      And Loulou loved meeting you πŸ™‚

  30. Wow, your dad is a language genius! πŸ˜€ And I had no idea your grandmother was from Berlin! My mom was born there, too. πŸ™‚

    My first language is German, and English is my second. In school, I’ve learned Latin for several years (yay ;)) and a little bit of Spanish. I’d love know Japanese, and attented Japanese classes for two semesters a few years ago, but forgot most of it. But I’m planning to sign up for a Japanese course at uni next week. πŸ™‚

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