Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bilingual Poop Phraseology

About a month ago, my Dad told me that I'd no longer be able to keep a running tally of her words, now that she's progressing so quickly with her language. Well, he's right (that feels good to hear, huh Dad?!). Though she definitely has the words that she picks up and makes a part of her daily vocabulary, her general tendency now is to repeat words, many words, that she hears throughout the day--sometimes right after she hears them, and often hours later, leaving us utterly impressed that she even heard and processed all that she did! This change has left me a little stymied as to how to proceed with this here blog, if it's now no longer a matter of adding words to our growing lists--where is my deepest satisfaction going to come from if I can't watch the lists grow? Am I actually going to have to seek satisfaction from being with this sweet child, and listening to her cute little voice say all of these amazing things?? And just share stories as they touch our hearts, as opposed to "keeping score" on the German vs. English "battle"?!

Apparently so.

So, here goes. Circle up. It's story time.

The first anecdote of the evening (ok, LATE night) has to do with poop, once again. While I understand that not everybody "enjoys" talking about it as much as I, it happens to be a HUGE part of our lives these days with a 20-month old (in 3 minutes!). So, humor me while I tell yet another caca-concoction...

In the past, I've written about how Kaya, along with many other budding bilinguals, generally picks a term in one language or the other, generally according to the ease of sound production, and continues to use that term despite understanding the other. Last week Friday, however, as we were in Santa Cruz on a visit with my aunt and uncle, Kaya uttered her first exception. As I've mentioned, Kaya also likes to tell us what's happening in her pants--not always with the greatest accuracy, though it's increasing quickly with every passing day (and with every successive cloth diaper, after a week of disposables). So, in her communicative fashion, Kaya was babbling away in the back of the car, and began to tell Harry and I that she had BOTH "A-a" AND "poop" in her diaper, by pointing to her diaper and saying both terms, repeatedly, back to back: "A-a, poop, a-a, poop..." One could come to some disheartening conclusions about how full her diaper might be after such a bilingual description--however, the most impressive part of that story is clearly the dual-language aspect, NOT the accuracy of the description. =)

Geoff was sadly unable to join us on our journey, slave for days to the nasty stomach flu (I'll avoid THAT body function story!)...so when we returned after a full week away, he was quite surprised as to how much Kaya's language had developed. He had a hard time describing how, exactly, it had changed...I think I can shed some light, though, being the linguistic note-taker that I am:

--She's making FOUR NEW sounds now with ease: H, F, L (in the middle of words) and S

Here's a few stories to illustrate the changes...

Before we left, I had been trying to teach her to say 'Hilfe', and Geoff was, naturally, working on its English counterpart, 'help'. She was able to produce "Hilthe" and "Hep". On our trip, after a 20-minute 'buckle game' (during which she would buckle the buckle, ask for my help by saying "hilfe" so I would unbuckle it, and then buckle it again), she mastered the term "Hilfe", which she now says about 80% of the time she needs my help. MUCH preferred to her previous attempts at help which left me feeling like running the opposite direction: "EHHH!!"

She also started saying "Haus" on our trip, and I swear I heard her say "Hund" (dog) once, though I can't be sure and I have my doubts, since she's only ever said that word in English....

My aunt and uncle had a couple of light switches in their house which were just low enough for Kaya to reach while standing on her tip-toes. They provided the perfect opportunity for her to work on her "an" and "aus", as she turned the lights on and off, over and over and over again. I wish I had a sound byte of the sound of her "s"--it's SO cute, a slight mix between an "sh" and a whistle...Tonight, while she was in bed, she seemed to be truly enjoying that she can now tell me when she wants me to turn her crickets off and on for her listening pleasure. Oh, and to piggy back on that story (Kaya is now 20 months!), she also can now differentiate between "aus" (off, out, from) and "auf" (on top of, open), as she demonstrated while we were in the kitchen and she asked me to open the cupboard for her ("auf").

My aunt Sue initially wanted to be called "Mama Sue" by her granddaughter who is a few months older than Kaya. However, over the months, it morphed into "Bubba Sue", naturally stuck, as all good nicknames do. Kaya apparently didn't like this nickname so much, however, and attempted to give her a new one that sounded an awful lot like a sneeze: "Aaaah Su" She is clearly capable of saying "baba", so it must be that she wants her OWN nickname for her 'new' grandma!

--She's stringing words together that she knows

I love this new tendency of hers. She's been doing it for a few weeks, but up until last week, it was only two words...often "MamaDada, DadaMama..." Last week, however, I heard her say three: "DadaMamaBaby"

And a couple cute little stories to end the eve (now early morn!):

Kaya has a new fascination with babies, and her baby (doll)...after we spent the afternoon with my friend's 4-month old, not a baby passes on the street that Kaya doesn't point out. So, she's been eager to spend more time with her 'baby', putting it to bed, covering it up, riding with it in the car (today was the first), and sleeping with it in her crib. For the past two nights, she has been saying "Ni-ni Baby", and stroking its cheek and chest, just as we do with her as we're tucking her in. And tonight, she clearly said "Ni-ni My Baby", as I often say to her (actually, "Mein Baby", but it's hard to hear the "n" when I say it). And Geoff said that he swears he heard her say, "Ni-ni my sweet little baby"...that would be impressive for sure. Where's the tape recorder when we need it!

It took Kaya 3 hours to fall asleep tonight...we were doing everything we could think of to help her, including rocking her, negotiating with her about disposables vs. cloth diapers, and dousing her with saline to help her stuffy nose. The thing that helped her most, however, at least in regards to keeping her from crying, was a long story that Geoff made up on the fly using a bunch of words that he knew that she understands. It became a story about a dog who played with a ball and met a squirrel and went to the park and ate peaches...or something like that. The part of this whole story that I loved hearing from him, though, was that she stopped crying as soon as he started telling it...and that when he was telling her "that the dog then went up to the squirrel and said...", Kaya filled in, with no prodding, saying, "Ufff, Ufff"! She's finally learning her animal sounds. Heehaw, reason to celebrate!

Oh, how I clearly love my child, because it's 12:15am, my throat hurts, and I can only hope that her 10:30pm sleep-time will allow us both more sleep in the morning!

Thanks for joining us in our 20-month update...til next time!


1 comment:

  1. I am glad to have found your page. It is great that you are giving your daughter another language. Even though it isn't your Native tongue...I'll be looking for updates and adding to my reader.


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