Friday, July 29, 2011


This is the book my daughter and I started to read during the summer holidays. She is really proud to be able to read a book (almost) on her own now.

As you can see, the book is in German, which might seem a little odd because this is not the mother tongue of the people in Luxembourg.
I don't think there are many countries in the world where so many languages are spoken as in this tiny Grand Duchy where I'm living.

At home Luxembourgers mostly speak the national language called "Lëtzebuergesch". Although this language has an official grammar, most people still write it phonetically. The official language is French, however - being so close to Germany - the first foreign language children start learning in 1st grade (at the age of 6) is German. In 2nd grade they start learning French. Starting these languages at such a young age makes them really fluent in both German and French by the time they leave school. They have no choice, a great number of students has to leave the country to study at a French or German university. In the 2nd year of high school English lessons are starting. This means that every Luxembourger graduating from high school speaks four languages. At a minimum, because there are a lot of mixed marriages in this country (like ours) and parents try to speak to their kids in their native language as much as possible. I had a colleague who spoke 6 languages fluently because she had Greek parents and her husband was Italian. The funny thing is that it is considered completely "normal" here, nobody thinks you're special or super-intelligent or whatever.

In my family my husband and the children all speak Luxembourgish together. However, he and I switch to German when we are alone. This is the way we started our conversation in the train between Luxembourg and Belgium more than 20 years ago and it feels kind of strange to speak anything else. With the boys I speak Luxembourgish and with the younger kids I try to use Dutch as much as possible. This sounds strange and confusing doesn't it?! But for us it is normal, we are so used to it, it is just the way we speak together.

Wishing everybody "e schéine Sonndeg"!