Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yes, Seriously Mommy!

Eleanor is nearly 19 months old now, and talking up a storm. It's been fascinating to observe as she learns more and more words, and adds them to her working vocabulary.

The earliest words were very elementary: "Mama" and "Dada" and "eat" or "baba" (baby). Then she started to get into animal sounds. Even now, she still says "woof" when talking about the dog, or "meow" and points to the cabinet where we keep the cat treats, indicating she wants to call the kitten. She also does pretty decent elephant and monkey imitations, even though we don't have any of those wandering about the house.

And of course, there's the whole category of sounds that I'm pretty sure are words, in Eleanor-land, but I can't always interpret them. Sometimes it's because it's a word I haven't taught her; one of the earliest was "touch" because her regular caregiver always talked about "touch gentle" with the animals. Since I had never used that particular phrase, it took me a few days of her pointing to the pets and saying "utch!" before I made the connection. It probably took me a week before I realized that "gogo" was actually "cocoa," as my sister Erin calls it. Keith and I call it "hot chocolate." Currently I haven't yet figured out what "nah-ni" or "ase" is, so if you have any guesses feel free to pass them along.

I am fascinated by the fact that, before learning new words, she sometimes goes back and refines the words she already knows. "Baba" disappeared a long time ago, to be replaced by "baby." Just this week, she has started using "Mommy" and "Daddy" instead of "Mama" and "Dada." She knows at least 4 ways to say "no" (no, nope, head shake, and uh-uh), and uses them much more often than those other words—: yeah, yes, yuppa (her own invention), yup, and the affirmative head shake.

So she is using a lot of the words that I would expect a 1-1/2 year old to say, wherever she learned them. But other ones come out of the blue. Her hand got stuck the other day when I was dressing her and she looked at me and said, "Thumb!" When did she learn "thumb"? I suppose that my being sick lately is the cause of her learning "tissue," with pretty good pronunciation. But definitely the biggest surprise came the other night when we were in the kitchen before dinner.

Keith was telling me that his longest night run (sometimes he goes out after Eleanor is in bed, so heading out the door a bit after 7pm) is going to be 14 miles.

I shook my head. "Seriously?"

Suddenly, a little voice piped up. "See-oh-seely?"

Keith and I stared at Eleanor.

"Did you just say 'seriously'?" I asked.

"Yuppa," Eleanor confirmed.



Jonathan said...

We have a little person who is belatedly learning words - mostly due to her formative months being spent in - how can we put this - "adverse" conditions.

She will be 5 at Easter, and while able to talk in full sentences, it's interesting to hear programming still going on in her head - some days she is crystal clear - other days it's like the entire speech center of her brain has been taken away by fairies.

M. Lubbers said...

The whole idea of learning language from the ground up is so fascinating to me. I feel like I can see her synapses firing .... when they first make the connection between "those sounds" and an idea or concept that can be conveyed, it's an amazing thing!