About me and my blog

lunes, 12 de marzo de 2012

Language acquisition

I am having a hard time keeping the pace with you in terms of language acquisition.
It is known that toddlers have a much wider understanding of language than they actually put into practice. I can't add words to the list of words you indeed voice fast enough, let alone the ones you understand without saying them. You understand words in two languages and don't seem to get confused. This is of course an adult's statement. An adult who has been teaching languages to other adults for too long... Hence my surprise. 
We are in awe with the fact that for your language seems to be a much more malleable thing than we usually think. This explains why when you started using the words "mama" and "papa", you would call "mama" or "papa" any face you'd see. Those seemed to be the words for people. Later on, when you learned "nena" (girl), you would call "nena" any thing with a face. Now, you seem to distinguish between "nena", used for kids or young women, and "yaya" (granma) used for other people.
Your pronunciation covers more phonemes than ours. You have both vowel and consonant sounds that seem to be somewhere in-between the ones we use. Thus the difference between "pa" and "pah", or "ta" and "tah". It is amazing to see your face light up every time you see our cat (or any cat, drawn, painted, or photographed) and say confidently: "pah".
What amazes me the most is the fact that whereas some concepts you name keep changing, there's always an inherent logic and I sometimes fear that this logic might escape my understanding.
It is a fact that you manage to mix Catalan and English in a way that highlights the similarities between the two languages. "Nose" for instance ("nas" in Catalan) is "na"; "cat" (gat in Catalan) is "pah".
My/your journal's lasts entries recording words you use date back to the 23rd of January and the 3rd of March, with 10 and 19 words, respectively. Today I might add at least 8 more.
I would now like to note down the words you've showed to know up to now. Just in case I forget.
To you, reader, feel free to skip the next section, since it might not be of your interest.
Words you had been using up to January, 23rd, 2012:
Ababa (water/aigua)
 ná (nose/nas)
nena (girl-kid-woman?)
pah (cat/gat)
ta (socks)
baba (banana)
Teddy (this is M's lovey)
nana (breast)
New words added on March, 3rd:
tah (jacket)
má (mouth)
pa (pa/bread)
uauau (dog/gos)
té (té/here you are)
mé (més/more)
mam (nyam/yummy)
tata (caca/poop)
apapa (apple)
yaya (granma and other people)
Words I've heard you voice more than a handful times as of now, March, 12th:
ptata (patata/potatoe)
shu (shoe)
tae (toes)
brbere (mandarina)
ai (eye)
peda (pera/pearl)
shi (si)
ha (hat)

There are a couple of anecdotes I would like to share. We usually listen to some old tapes every morning and do some dancing. I would have said the music was just a background but there you also took me by surprise. Some weeks ago, while chanting with The Beatles "and in her eyes, you see nothing", you pointed out to me: "eyes!". Days later it was old Bob Dylan singing out of tune "Mama’s in the fact’ry. She ain’t got no shoes". There you grinning widely and pointing to your brand-new shoes!
What about your babies/toddlers? I would love to hear what they are babbling!

2 comentarios:

  1. This is amazing at M's age - and for a bilingual child! How exciting for you to watch it all unfold :)

    At 14 months, Annabelle had only a handful of words, but at this point she amazes us daily. Her vocabulary is wide enough that I have long since lost track, but I love seeing the new constructions she's grasping. Most recently, she has started using "instead of." The biggest thing is how happy they are when they see that they have communicated successfully. It's such a huge part of life!

  2. Thanks, Melissa. You are right, it is so exciting to see her grow and learn more and more things.
    It must be amazing hear Annabelle using complex constructions such as "instead of".
    And, yes, it is definitely the best thing to see frustration reduced to a minimum because of successful use of language.