Bilingual is Better
Photo by bimurch

Photo by bimurch

As I was rummaging through some baby toys and books getting them ready for Santiago, who just turned five months and is so much more interested in all kinds of things, I came across a CD of lullabies that I received as a gift from one of my mother’s sisters in Mexico. I immediately remembered how lucky my kids are to have family in South Latin America that can help them appreciate their culture even more through amazing examples.

The CD is called Arriba del Cielo by Susana Harp. I’m really not sure why it was in the box of baby books, although I guess my daughter stopped listening to lullabies a while back. Anyhow, I immediately decided to play it, and a bunch of memories came rushing back.

I used to play it for Vanessa when she was a baby. That feels like a long time ago, and she is only three and a half years old. Although we didn’t understand the majority of the lyrics – Harp sings in several of Mexico’s indigenous tongues: Zapoteco, Maya, Mixteco and Náhualt – her beautiful voice is definitely soothing. Half of the songs are in Spanish and you can find translations of the lyrics, for the ones that are not, in the CD booklet. Vanessa very quickly realized it wasn’t all in Spanish and wanted to know what language it was and why. One awesome opportunity to talk about languages and diversity!

Harp describes her CD, which she dedicated to her son Emiliano, as “arrullos, rondas, juegos, nanas…cantos de niños, murmullos del alma.” ¿Qué lindo, no?

The other day, I played the track entitled La Boda del Sapo y la Rana, just to see Vanessa’s reaction. She is totally into “cuentos,” so she loved that this song tells the story of the wedding between the toad and the frog. She was able to pick up on a lot of words and then I just retold her the story in simpler words. And, we listened to it again!

In researching a little bit more about Harp, I found out that the Mexican singer has dedicated her musical career to gathering information and rescuing the sounds of her country, in particular of her own state, Oaxaca. The songs on the CD go as far back as prehistoric Mayan times. In an interview, Harp explained that it took her over four years to research and gather all the songs she decided to include in Arriba del Cielo. Talk about a labor of love!

Anyhow, now that the CD has been rescued from the depths of the box full of baby toys, we will be listening to it a lot more.

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