Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Parlez-vous Baby Esperanto?

I lied about byebye. It isn't Ali's first word, it's her first word in English. Pre-byebye she had many words, but what she meant by them only meant something to her, because pre-byebye she spoke Babish.

In the baby-tongue, Ali can opaquely discuss all things mysterious. My research indicates that each Babisher is assigned an individual dialect at birthunique, like a fingerprint or a social security number. This dialect is super-indecipherable to tall people, and also mostly unintelligible to other babies.

Babish is the loneliest of languages; a means of burping loudly and giggling madly to oneself (and perhaps also the Invisible Clown, if his is indeed out there and listening). Being baffling is initially quite fun but quickly grows old. Ultimately a Babisher must learn English, or whatever the mama-tongue is, to communicate anything more sophisticated than hungry, sleepy, change me, cuddle me, burp me, play with me, ME ME ME (a non-exhaustive list of things that can be communicated by screaming and flailing about).

Living with a native Babisher has taught me a few things. For instance in Ali's dialect the most important word is 'ko'. Not 'coo', mind you. Ali regularly points at items, looks very serious and says 'ko'. She utters it with joy, surprise, rage and 200,000 other emotions. I've overheated my brain trying to figure it out. The best I can do is toodle around with Ali, point to an item and ask if it is ko. She ponders the question, then extends her pointer finger (she has just entered the pointy phasemore on this later) and gives the solemn ko-blessing. Or, she looks at me like I'm a nutter and blinks to indicate 'not ko'.

From left to right: ko, ko, not ko. 
As for Ana, the acquisition of powerful words like 'no' and 'why' pretty much wiped out her interest in the Babish. Once upon a time she too had a special item-identification word akin to ko. It was pronounced 'DAT!'. For many months DAT! was absolutely everywhere and I had absolutely no idea what it meant.

A few whispers of the baby-tongue linger in Ana. For instance, sometimes she develops Babish-ears and can't hear a word of English from Mama or Papa. When she gets excited and isn't thinking before she speaks, little Babish phrases pop out. She is prone to laugh-shouting 'ning-a-ning-a-ning-a-niiiiiiiiiiiii! Fas-did-a-eeyiiiiiiiiiiii!'while running in circles and getting dizzy. When she bounces up and down on a forbidden item in muddy shoes, such as a friend's expensive new white sofa for instance, she stacatos: 'hothothot hothothot!' in triplicate bursts.

Babish is fascinating, fleeting and ultimately supplanted by the accidental swearing stage. Which is replaced by the purposeful swearing stage, otherwise known as adolescence, otherwise known as why Mama is developing Babish-ears for adults and constructing a fully-stocked underground bomb-shelter. Years away I know, but the inheritance of George Carlin and Lenny Bruce is inevitable.


  1. Babish, ya gotta love it! I was always enthralled with the 3 yr-old version. I have find time to go back and read your earlier blogs. You are very good at getting the most out of vocabulary!

  2. I LOVE the short vs. tall people theme you have going...

  3. i love your writing and i miss friday morning mom and tots. xoxo

  4. Anna! Thank you! Welcome--nice to see you here. Didn't realize you were a fellow blogger, how lovely :)

  5. i love your writing and i miss friday morning mom and tots. xoxo