Translating from toddler

Alphabet Blocks
Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Language is an interesting thing.  One of the times when my parents were visiting, Little Man had just started to experiment with different consonants.  At one point he said something which sounded like “guck.”  My mom, glowing with the pride of her first grandchild’s certain genius, turned to me and gushed, “He said ‘dog!’ “

Now that Little Man is actually talking, I’ve gotten used to communicating with him in his own version of English.  It wasn’t until my mother-in-law was visiting that I noticed that his version was not universal.  Little Man would say something which was clear to me, but that she didn’t understand, and I realized that I was translating from toddler.

Here are some examples of his versions of words.  I thought it would be nice to record them for posterity.

  • pancake – mancake
  • popcorn – picar
  • it’s on (like an overhead light) – ota on
  • dog – woah woah (as in woof woof)
  • paper – paypee
  • potato – pitu (now tayto, which makes more sense)
  • water – warrrr
  • milk – nilk
  • yellow – lelo
  • shoe – sue
  • spoon – foon
  • juice – chooce
  • a siren (think fire truck) – weeoo weeoo
  • phone – sone
  • apple – appoh
  • thank you – sankuu (how cute is that?)

There are also some completely adorable things that he says.  He has this little teeny voice which makes any word sound precious.  Even when he’s saying “no” it’s endearing (sometimes).  Here are some words that just make me kvell whenever he says them:

When I stop to think about the fact that my baby (okay, toddler) is talking, like, really communicating with me, it blows my mind.  What a miracle that Little Man, who was just making random sounds a few months ago is now coordinating his mouth, tongue and throat to produce the same sounds that I am making.  He has gotten so adept that he is really able to repeat nearly any simple word that we say.  Yes, his little brother’s name (David Eliezer) is still out of reach, but “apple juice” and “potato kugel” were both successfully executed the other day.  It’s just amazing how the brains of kids develop, and I’m so thankful to be able to enjoy this milestone.  What a blessing!

What were some of your kids’ first words, or cute mispronunciations?



20 thoughts on “Translating from toddler


    Reena called me “mushies” for a long time. “Can you say mommy?” “MUSHIES!” “no, say MOMMMMMYYYY.” “MUSHIES! Gosh I miss those days.

    I remember Chananiah was only using 2-3 words and only when SERIOUSLY prompted but all of a sudden, he said an entire sentence: “I need my toy”. I cried when he said that sentence. And then he went back to no sentences for a VERY long time.

    Now, with both twins in speech therapy, I take their words and sentences very seriously and don’t take them for granted!

    Enjoy the conversations!

  2. Rena calls everything “Da-da”, even me. She says “lah” for light. She points to everything saying, “dat?”, “dat?” Her newest word is “baouuuu!” She crawls around just saying that over and over; I have no clue what that one means.

      1. Yeah, no. She doesn’t even know who I am. She points to EVERYTHING, but when I say “where’s Mommy?”, she looks somewhere else.

        I really like that you’re keeping a list of LM’s words and pronunciations. He’ll love it when he’s older and he has stories about when he was a baby.

  3. I am definitely Emily’s interpreter. Really, I think she speaks clearly but apparently everyone else doesn’t know how to listen well. Haha just kidding.

  4. This is so cute – especially since my little toddler (getting used to that word cuz he’s not a baby anymore :-D) says some of the exact same things, which sometimes only I understand!
    He can’t say kugel though he does say tudel! That’s really good – seems like your LM has quite a vocabulary…soon he’ll be talking full sentences!

  5. Oh, and he called the babysitter IMA for a very long time cuz that’s what her kids call her!

    The babysitter said she was once walking down the street when she saw one of her “kids” walking with her father. The kid pointed to her (the babysitter) screaming “Ima, Ima” which was a little embarrasing since this was the kid’s babysitter, not her mother!!

  6. This subject is near and dear to my heart. I have one child whose vocabulary is truly astounding, and one who has been in speech therapy for over a year. Sophie, it seems, was practically born saying full sentences. I can hardly remember when the time before she was stringing 2 or 3 words together … Joey said 3 words for his first 18 months, period. Getting him to say more than that was quite a challenge. He was well after his 2nd birthday before he would use 4-5 baby signs to communicate. Then slowly, it started happening. First he began repeating one or two words we asked him to say, then he started spontaneously pointing at pictures in books and loudly proclaiming what they were. Now he says, “red dog, woof woof!” “blue kitty, meow!!” It is truly amazing when they make that leap. Now he is saying 6-7 new words every day, and let me tell you, hearing his sweet little voice is music to my ears! The way he pronounces things is so precious, too.

    Like you said, it’s delicious!!

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