When I was a toddler I could not speak English; instead I used my own language. The only one who could understand it was my older brother Colin, so it must have followed some linguistic rules and had a reasonably consistent vocabulary. I spoke at length to my parents, resting my hands upon my father’s knees as I did so. When they could not understand me I would lose my temper and my parents turned to my brother to translate.
I often wonder what on earth I was saying.
Now that I live in France I am speaking my grown-up invented language: pidgin Franglais.
It started when I forgot the English word for edible fungi. It wouldn’t come and in the end the French name popped into my head. ‘Cham, Champ, Chami,’ I would stutter. Finally it would come, or so I thought. ‘Champrooms,’ I would cry triumphantly to the puzzlement of market stall holders and amusement of my wife. Mushrooms, champignons, what the heck. I love ’em whatever they’re called. Especially with bacon in a sandwich.
Now there’s a French ex-pat story for another time.