Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What's the word?

As a linguist, I find the world to be largely an experiment in sociolinguistics—from my friend Kat’s insightful posts about interesting things she hears to fellow blogger Wood’s Thursday morning daycare report update, transcribed verbatim from her Vietnamese day care provider’s unusual—if not downright whimsical—use of the English language. And of course, parenting is no different, except that in addition to observing my own interesting use of language, I have been—no pressure, I promise—looking forward to my son’s first words since waaaay before he was born.

And I think he may have made actual verbal contact with my husband the other day. So of course the next natural question is, “what was that first word??” After much hemming, hawing and arguing, my husband and I have negotiated an answer.

We’re pretty sure it was broccoli.

Yeah, broccoli. Not mama, or dada or even no! We are pretty sure what we heard was intended to signify D’s favorite part of lunchtime.

You see, the D-unit LOVES broccoli and eats it constantly, sometimes twice a day. So lately, since he clearly knows which food is which by its label (“apple” gets a grin, he dives for “chicken” or “peaches” when they are put on the tray, but “cheese” is always ignored, unless it’s on a “cracker”) we’ve been telling him what we’re giving him so he can choose what he wants to eat when. So Daddymatic gave him some broccoli and said “broccoli!” To which D smiled and said “buh-guh.” Daddy wasn’t sure he’d heard right, so he repeated “broccoli!” and got another, slightly more impatient “buh-guh.” (as if he was saying “um, yeah, isn’t that what I JUST SAID?”). Apparently, he said it several more times while enjoying his floreted friends, so we’re hoping that’s what it meant and not “Cripes, people, can we get another green veg in here sometime? Ever hear of spinach?”

Of course, he hasn’t done it since, but I’m wondering if it’s because he’s confused as his OTHER favorite thing right now is “buckle” (as in the buckle on his high chair) and to him, “broccoli” and “buckle” probably sound remarkably the same, what with the B, K and L sounds all squirming around in there together.

As an aside, I wish they made a Dapper Dan (did you ever have one of these as a kid?) whose outfits consist of nothing but buckles, the scratchy/hook side of Velcro, and, if possible, two tiny wooden doors that slam as nicely as the ones on our entertainment center. Then the baby would have all his favorite activities together in one toy.