I havenâ€™t spoken Bulgarian on a daily basis in 10 years. Were I put in a room today with someone who only spoke Bulgarian, Iâ€™d probably have a hard time understanding them, let alone putting together a comprehensible sentence. The last time I attempted to speak it with a native Bulgarian was on my honeymoon with Marathon Girl. We ate at a Bulgarian restaurant in Las Vegas and I managed to order a meal and carry on a basic conversation with the waitress. The waitress was so floored that an American could speak Bulgarian, she rewarded Marathon Girl and I with some complimentary Bulgarian deserts after our meal.
The only word Bulgarian word I use on a somewhat regular basis is stiga (pronounced STEE-ga). Translated it means Stop it! or Enough! When used on context, you say it to a misbehaving dog or other animal. You never say it to a person. At least thatâ€™s what Bulgarians told me.
Of course how one is supposed to use the word doesnâ€™t stop me from using it at my kids when theyâ€™re fighting or misbehaving. If they donâ€™t settle down Iâ€™m more than likely to use the world stiga than â€œKnock it off!â€ or â€œQuit fighting!â€ For some reason the word just works better in my mind for the point I’m trying to make to the kids.
I didnâ€™t realize that the boys even understood the context of stiga (or how much I used the word) until Aidan and Steven were fighting over a toy last week. Steven was upset that Aidan wouldnâ€™t share and tried to take it from Aidan. A mighty struggle ensued. Once Aidan realized Steven wasnâ€™t going to give up the fight for the toy he yelled â€œStiga, Steven!â€ at which point Steven backed down.
After I got over my initial shock that Aidan said a Bulgarian word, I took him aside and explained to him that stiga wasnâ€™t English and that most people wouldnâ€™t understand what he was saying. I then told him Iâ€™d try to speak English when I was talking to him and Steven.
Of course that little talk did nothing to dissuade Aidan from saying stiga several times since then. And I still catch myself using it even though I quickly follow it up with a â€œStop it, boysâ€ or â€œQuit fighting.â€
The whole incident has been another reminder for me what an example parents are to their kids and how we constantly do things that they pick up on â€“ even if weâ€™re unaware of it. I should be glad that itâ€™s just a Bulgarian word my kids have picked up on. If I was a swearing man no doubt Aidan and Steven would pick up on that too. Iâ€™d much rather have them stay stiga than swear words.
Hopefully any other bad examples Iâ€™m unconsciously setting for them arenâ€™t becoming part of their daily habits too. If they are, not doubt they’ll show up very soon.
4 comments July 5th, 2007