The Interpreter

Over the last couple of months the girl has really started speaking a lot.  Now whether what she says is understandable depends on if you're me, the wife, the parent of an almost 2-year old, or anybody else.  Those of you who fall into the first three categories have a fighting chance.  Anybody else would probably have better luck understanding the clicks and clacks of the Kalahari Bushmen (go rent The Gods Must Be Crazy if you haven't seen it).  Even for the wife and me it's usually pretty difficult to comprehend what she's saying the first time she says a word or phrase.  It's only after asking her several times "What?" or "Excuse me?" that we get it.  And we often must have her point to what she's talking about (if applicable).  Lately I've felt like we are speaking in tongues and live in the Tower of Babel.  You can call me Nimrod.

What we really need around here to decipher what the girl says is a baby-talk version of the German Enigma machine (it's probably a safe bet to say that Google is already working on such a device).  A tool like that would be useful to us because, in addition to speaking like her mouth is full of animal crackers (which is often the case), the girl has a slight lisp (which by the way is very cute) and understandably can't yet pronounce all the letters of the alphabet.  So the "k" sound becomes a "t" sound and the word "book" is "boot", "cookie" is "tootie", "milk" is "milt", and "Corn Pops" become "Torn Pops".  And hilariously "Okay!" becomes "Otay!", which every time she says it makes me think of Eddie Murphy's Buckwheat character (yes, another Eddie Murphy SNL reference).  Another one she can't pronounce is the "g" sound, which becomes a "d" sound.  So "Goldbug" is now "Doldbud".

Compounding our miscommunication is the fact that the girl sometimes omits the first syllables from words or even skips entire words at the beginning of phrases.  For example, "oatmeal" becomes "meal" and "again" becomes "dain".  Her favorite show, The Backyardigans, is "Dens".  The book we currently read 17 times per day is Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.  Our friend Doldbud is hidden somewhere on every page, similar to Waldo in the Where's Waldo books.  So when trying to locate him and asking where he is, the girl says "Doldbud, are you?".

One word that nobody has trouble understanding her say is "no", or more often "NO!".  And recently "no" has morphed into "no way".  Last night we had a friend spend the night at the house.  The hope is that one day our basement will contain a guest room, but since it's still unfinished the girl's room currently doubles as our guest room.  When people stay with us, the girl gets the boot and sleeps in her Pack 'N Play in the TV room while the guest or guests sleep in her crib (actually we have a double bed in there).  In the past this has never really been an issue.  We go through our usual bedtime routine and the girl sleeps just fine.  For some reason she would have none of it last night.  When it was time to hit the hay, the girl refused to lay down and repeated "No way!" over and over and over.  The wife and I tried all of the usual tricks - singing songs, giving her more milk, playing the "Pointing Game" in which we mention an object in the room and the girl points to it.  Nothing worked.  I even tried responding with "Way!" a la Wayne and Garth, but the girl was not amused.  Eventually she calmed down and went to sleep (after we moved her back into her own room and relegated our guest to the couch in the TV room), but then she woke up and 2:00 a.m. and I sat with her for another 45 minutes of "No way!"s before she went down for the rest of the night.

The word games are all very cute but can sometimes be frustrating, even more so for the girl when she's really trying to tell us something.  But I know this won't last forever, so for now I'm just enjoying it.  She probably won't even want to talk to me in a few years.  As for those of you who should engage her in conversation over the next few months, if you can remember the key points from above, you may actually have a shot at understanding the girl.  Otherwise bring your Enigma machine.


Most people are familiar with European countries' penchant for brewing and drinking beer.  According to the New York Times, a southeast Asian country is now a formidable beer-drinker's travel destination.  Surprisingly (at least to me), that country is Vietnam.  This article highlights the history of beer in Vietnam and lists some of the brews available there.  Particularly intriguing is the bia hoi ("fresh beer"), which the article states is unpasteurized and unpreserved and normally drank the same day that it's produced.  Interestingly, it's often sucked down first thing in the morning before, the locals say, the flavor begins to decline.  And how about this - a pint costs less than a quarter!  Sounds like a trip to Hanoi is in order.

Đũ má mày!


Ted said...

Eric, I'm enjoying the diaper and beer mixture, but I think you are missing a little of the legos...I think your blog will do a good job of chronicling the 2010 you need to talk more about the games. TV shows are good, but games are good to. Of course I say that but I think Goldbug has been around quite some time. It is a favorite at this house as well as the farm story with the hidden duck on every page (I forget the name).

Our children are experts at saying no, and one time my father suggested that we give choices, rather than a yes/no. "would you like to do this or that?" vs "would you like to do this?" Anyway, you must have to get them earlier as my kids just still say no.

Eric said...

Yes Ted, I'm overdue for a Lego post. Have been thinking about writing one for a couple weeks now, but it keeps getting trumped by other thoughts/ideas. I'll definitely get to it within the next couple of posts.

Thanks for reading and providing feedback!

Daddy Files said...

Thank God I'm not alone.

My son turns 2 in April and he's on a "No way" kick right now too. We're trying to break him of the habit by correcting him with "No thank you" but honestly I think that just increases the "no ways."

And yes, "okay" is "otay" and Eddie Murphy also jumps to the forefront of my mind.

I like the blog, can't wait to dig in a bit and read some more.

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