Sunday, 24 May 2009

Winning words

So, how well did you do?
iggoo = Iggle-Piggle (of 'In the Night-Garden fame); amm-mar = grandma; aieee = Sally; dar = star; cah = car; mamama = muumy; dadah = daddy; oggleog = it would be awfully kind of you to procure me a yoghurt, daddy; nana = banana; ayaya = hello; bah-bah = bye-bye, farewell; bah = bath, a river, the sea - any large expanse of water, really; buh = bus (or anything larger than a car); aiee-ya = tractor; did-uh = digger;
A couple of weeks ago this list of words was pretty much the extent of Charlie's vocabulary. That was then. Now we're well into a geometric increase - not quite at the Chomskyian point where more words come out than have gone in, but probably getting near. Most of them still need some interpretation, but at times they can be pretty close to the original. Here's the puzzle, though. Whereas on occasions he can utter words with the utmost clarity, a day - or even, hours - later and we'll be back to educated guessing. Early morning seems to be the best time for a conversation. I once read somewhere that certain songbirds 'dream' songs in their sleep. Perhaps Charlie's dreaming conversations, which he then has when he wakes. And then, as the day goes on, the words get harder to decipher. Not that this list was too difficult, judging from the responses.
There were some excellent attempts. Both Maternal Tales and Catharine Withenay came close, and Antonella (Lunarossa) deserves a prize for creativity! And the winner - with eight correct answers - is.... Dawn, who blogs at Bee and Rose.
The prize will be a copy of my next book. The lead-time is currently the better part of two years, so there'll be a slight delay. But if you send me your address (e-mail I'll make sure that a copy heads your way asap. By that time - who knows? - Charlie may be able to read it for himself!


  1. We're making similar attempts at translation. Dus = bus (very definite about this) and chus = cheese. They sound very similar when uttered by a young mouth but thankfully dus is only used when we're out driving and chus is used with various hand motions that point to the fridge.

  2. That was all far too deep for me - but good post anyway.


  3. Guess all parents learn to be bilingual!

  4. Charlie's language is good deal more logical and easy to pronounce than regular English.

    (What kind of a loony scientist is it that claims to know what songbirds are dreaming of??)

  5. I remember a childless friend asking me when Tizzy was baby if I understood everything he said or was she the only one who couldn't understand babies.
    Now that she's about to birth her second, I'll have to throw the question back to her.

  6. Following an impromptu stop at a very busy Stonehenge last Friday, we've now got big buh too, Steve. He was in his seventh heaven of happiness at the sight of so many...

    He's a philosopher in the making, Jenny!

    They say that children up to the age of seven can learn two different langauges easily, Jinksy. Maybe that's what they mean - their parents and their own!

    It certainly is to him, Gadjo!

    Translation ability comes as part of the package I think, Serena


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