The Syllable "ka"

One of the advantages of being an au pair in Switzerland is that I get a taste of native Swiss family life. On the other hand, one of the challenges is that I'm learning High German in school, but hearing Swiss-German with the family.

"Menta! Menta!" That's what the little ones call me. The little ones being Al and Little L, four and almost three years old, respectively. I've come to realize that "ka" is a rather important syllable in the children's German vocabulary. "Kaka" is not what you think it is, that's actually called Kacki.

No, "kaka" means the children want to be carried. It's their version of the Swiss word träge (I think), from the High German verb tragen. I've even heard them refer to ketchup as "Kaka," but they've quickly outgrown that, thankfully. My favorite word is "Kakaka," which is an attempt at Laschtwage, the Swiss word for truck. The High German word for truck is Lastwagen. (A word pattern I've noticed with regard to the Swiss-German dialect is the omission of the consonant "n" found in the High German equivalent.)

I'm just thankful that the boys' mother helps me decipher what the children are saying by providing translations into English, High German, and Swiss-German. Whoa pair, indeed.

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