joye the obscured (dustthouart) wrote in linguaphiles,
joye the obscured

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typical early words for babies and toddlers in your language

From both my (admittedly introductory) study of linguistics and my own experience with my 14 month old, it seems that the early words of children are guided chiefly by #1 what the children themselves find most urgent and interesting to communicate, #2 what their unskilled and immature muscles find possible to form, and #3 starting with nouns and verbs as the concepts most easy to grasp.

With my daughter we speak English at home, use some ASL signs (I wouldn't go so far as to say we speak ASL with her), and in certain situations we use Mandarin as well. So far she has not produced any Mandarin that is recognizable to me but she has made Mandarin-like babble (imitating rhythms and sounds), especially when we have been in an extended period of speaking only Mandarin, and she shows understanding of some Mandarin, perhaps because I often pair Mandarin with some signs (signing BITE NO while saying "不要咬他" for example).

It's the gap between what she can say in English and what she can sign that I find most fascinating. One of her first signs was "MILK" and she showed understanding of that sign at only a few months old, but she has never said anything like "milk" or "breast" in English. Closest she has come is saying "na na" (probably from "nurse").

Ditto EAT and MORE, which she managed to sign very early, but still has not attempted to say.

On the flip side, she started saying "mama" meaningfully months before being able to pair it with the sign MOTHER (and her sign of MOTHER is still very clumsy, usually just consisting of her rubbing her chin with her hand).

In summary, it seems like whether signed or spoken, everything she expresses are highly motivating concepts, but she's clearly only able to express some concepts in one language. Naturally, I'm wondering if typical early baby words wouldn't vary widely from language to language depending on how difficult the words for certain key, baby-priority concepts are to pronounce.

What are stereotypical first/early words for babies and toddlers in languages you speak? Any languages where words for "mother" and "father" aren't among them? How about real examples of early words (and their meanings in English if you don't mind) from small children you know?
Tags: language acquisition

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