Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bilingual Stirrings

Paula is starting, slowly, one word at a time, to speak. She has had one or two words for a while now - one of her first words, for example, was to point very firmly at something which caught her eye and say “Né!”. This is the Hungarian word for “Look!” and sounds not unlike “Ni” - thus for a while she was very much the “baby who says ni”. But anyway, I digress.

So, post né! and a long drawn out, occasionally whiny A-ny-u-ka, she was being quite slow to utter things. This apparently is quite common in bilingual babies who are getting input in more than one language - they take longer to start using the words. She was up to speed with all the other developmental milestones which parenting websites offer up, but speaking was (and is) lagging a tad. But recently the words have started to come - there’s now a very definite “köszi” (thanks), and something which sounds like “this” but is very likely “tessek” (among other things, “here you are”), and a few others. But a couple of days ago we were standing (or I was standing, she was in my arms) at the kitchen window looking for dogs outside (She loves dogs. And pigeons. All animals probably, it’s just that in downtown Csikszereda, dogs and pigeons are broadly speaking the only obvious non human options). As we stood and looked, there round the corner came a dog. Quick as a flash, her arm extended, and her finger pointed quivering at this sight. “Look!” she cried excitedly. In English. Not only had she come up with her first recognisable English word, but she had correctly surmised that she needed to use it with me, and nobody else, and had managed to do that all in the split second of intense excitement at seeing yet another scruffy mongrel. The human brain is an amazing thing.

I’m not sure how long it will be before she learns that an English speaking cockerel goes “Cock-a-doodle-do”, since at present they very definitely say “Kukuriku”, which is what those odd magyar cocks say. (More animal noises in different languages can be found here).

1 comment:

-R! said...

“baby who says ni”

Classic, Andy! Hahaha.