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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yooka Me & Other Toddler Speech

Top to Bottom: Taylor, Kaden, Zac
Understanding toddler speak is quite a challenge, but if you pay attention to the cues, you can figure it out.

I've been in Virginia visiting my son and his family, and I overheard my grandson, Zac, talking to some friends who were visiting.

"I not Yacky," he said. "I Yackery." What he was saying (obviously) was, "I'm not Zachy –I'm Zachary."

It reminded me of the first time I babysat for a little 3-year-old Korean girl. She was a beautiful little girl with bright eyes that just glowed with intelligence and happiness. Having never met her, I thought she might take a while to warm up to me, but her immediate reaction was to light up and exclaim, "Mahti mihaab?"

I remembered thinking that it would have been nice if the parents had told me their daughter couldn't speak English, but I thought that if I asked her to show me, I might be able to figure it out.

"Mahti mihaab?" She asked again.

I said, "Show me," as I reached for her hand. She led me to the couch and patted it. I sat down and watched her open her purse, her eyes still beaming with delight. "Ti mi haab!" she exclaimed as she pulled one item after another out of her purse.

Oh. I get it. What she was trying to say was, "Want to see what I have?" and "See what I have?"

Just the other day in the car, Zac called out from the back seat, "Daddy, yooka me. Yooka me, Daddy." All you smart mommies and daddies out there already know what that means, right? "Look at me."

But I'll bet that if I mention sows and yeppers, you might not have a clue. However, if you click the link to an article entitled, Creating Helpful Dictionaries, you'll find out.

In the meantime, use the "show me" method if your toddler can't get his or her point across. That method usually works. Not always, mind you, because I remember a time when my daughter, Lindsey, asked for beeches and it took me several months to figure out she meant grapes.

The only reasonable explanation for calling grapes beeches is that she probably asked what grapes were but the grapes were sitting next to the peaches and whoever it was who didn't pay attention to where she was looking, told her they were called peaches. As a result she would have believed that grapes were called peaches. Happens all the time.

But to make sure that DOESN'T happen, pay attention to what your child is asking so you won't misinform him or her. Otherwise, you'll find yourself at the fruit counter surrounded by strangers as your child points to grapes and calls them beeches. Discovering your toddler's method of communication is an enjoyable process.

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