For me, it could be either or a combination. Considering in "my top 5 when I was 5" were songs that I didn't understand - Sukiyaki (all in Japanese - but I may have understood more then) or Dominique (in French). What's New Pussycat? - Mostly because it was about a "cat" and I was definitely cat crazy then. Downtown - because I loved singing the "downtown" part of the chorus?
Some how this got me thinking about Grandma. You'd think I'd have more memories of her as she lived part of the year with us - usually from her birthday, Feburary 10th through Mother's Day. She just was. Her hair was so long - past her waist, but she kept it rolled up in a bun. She just laughed when I showed her the song I'd learned "Three sailors went to sea sea sea to see what they could see but all that they could see see see was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea..." It must have been all those hand movements in the final chorus.
I was Debbie-chan. G was Gerru-chan. K at times was Karen Kiyo Matsuura-chan - just because K didn't have a Japanese middle name. She never called my by my Japanese name because it was her name =)
We must have communicated - she spoke some English but I didn't always understand. "Mom! What did Grandma say??? She was speaking to you in English. She was???" When I was younger, I guess I understood more Japanese. I just don't remember it. When I took Japanese in college things sort of clicked - but I've lost it again since I don't use it.
I guess I remember Grandma as more of a feeling or song? It was her laughter, or just cuddling and saying "nene nene" to get you to go sleep. Or the little hand game that she chanted "cho cho cho! a gino gino yo! tingatingatingatingatinga - Bah!" I have no idea if it has any meaning or it's just nonsense syllables. Bath time was "bacha bacha time"
She died when I was 14 and the last year had been hard on her. She often didn't recognize people. One of the last times we visited when she was still at home, my sisters and I were horsing around in the living room and I heard her say "Debbie-chan". She knew who I was and I was probably in trouble *g*.