Friday, January 20, 2006

"buh" is for balloon

I finally realize how it is that parents can distinguish their children's first words even if they sound like nonsensical babbles to the rest of us. Previously I believed it to be some secret language spoken by babies and understood only by their auditorily gifted parents. Now I see the way it really works. Newly verbal child points or stares at an object and repeats a specific sound. When asked what that object is, future linguist repeats the exact same sound. In our case, it also didn't hurt to have 5 dozen birthday balloons in the house to cause me to consider that the repeated "buh! buh! buh!" could be something more than just normal verbal experimentation. No, he was only saying "buh" when referring to the balloon. Hey, I'm adaptable. Can I count that as a new word?

Everyday Sam is actively learning this challenging language we call English. With the exception of balloon, he's mastered several other more recognizable words including clock, sock, cup, pa, plant and bye. "Clock" in particular is repeated ad nauseam, even in the opinion of his adoring mother. Does he want to teach me the fine points of time management? Does he want to convey his preference for fine Swiss movement? Whatever the case, there sure is some importance he's attaching to the clock. I guess that will remain a mystery until he's got some more words.
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