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Come to the Kitchina!

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"The mosquitoes are mording my bumsie!"..."Does the cactus punge?"..."Come to the kitchina please now, Daddy!"; "I want some malacqua".

Around the age of two, our daughter started amusing us with a variety of linguistic amalgamations -- 'mordere' is Italian for bite and 'bumsie' is Trinidadian for bottom; 'pungere' means to prick; 'cucina' is Italian for kitchen and 'malacqua' is a fusion of 'malako' the Russian for milk (learned from our Moldovan babysitter) -- and 'acqua', Italian for water.

She also started treating us as walking dictionaries, to fulfill her seemingly insatiable desire to learn how to say every single item she came across in both English and Italian.

As anyone with more than one language in the family will know, children effortlessly absorb whatever language they hear, creating their own mental web of words, and sooner or later (depending on the child) spouting sentences that are fun to hear and fascinating to dissect.

My friend Yee Ling, whose children are growing up in New York speaking Cantonese and English, finds her three-year old son Zach using the Chinese words for blanket and bottom when addressing his American father: "Daddy, I can't find my pei-pei" and "I fell and hurt my pet-pet".

Swiss daddy Nicolas tells me his bilingual daughters would often come up with German-English combinations like: "I coming mit you to the Auto" and "I was so tired I had to yawnen!"

Little Vic, who is growing up trilingual in London -- Portuguese, Italian and English -- turns Portuguese verbs into Italian ones by adding on an 'e'. Thus, 'pegar' and 'brincar' turn into: "Pegare in braccio, papà" ("Pick me up, Daddy") or: "Andiamo a brincare nella stanza snooker" ("Let's go and play in the snooker room").

He fetchingly adds on Portuguese diminutive suffixes to English words: "Pleasinho, mamae!" ("Please, mummy!") and sticks solely to the Portuguese term for certain exclamations: "That's a big bagunça!" ("That's a big mess!")

Meanwhile, a little Anglo-Swiss playmate of my daughter's who is growing up in Rome speaking English, French and Italian has gone one step further in closing cultural gaps. Since his family's helper at home is Indian, the toddler now refers to bread of any kind (be it a baguette or a bun) as chapati and all types of chips and crisps as poppadoms!

Kiddy Speak is always worth a chuckle, whether it's multi or monolingual. What expressions have you come across in your family that you'd like to share?