"Mommy" Means Everything

Cracking the code of baby talk isn't for the weak of heart, as one father discovers

Rule No. 6: Sentence structure is, let's say, creative. The adjectives hop over the nouns, the adverbs leap the verbs, and direct objects settle at will. This makes it difficult to tell if your child has been done unto or is doing unto others. For example, Erin announced, "Teacher, Ms. Kathy me got mad!" Now, did Erin's teacher get angry at Ms. Kathy or is the teacher named Ms. Kathy, and did she get angry at Erin? Perhaps Erin got angry at her teacher for getting angry at Ms. Kathy (whoever she is...).

Rule No. 7: Words may have multiple meanings, especially for younger children. "Ba-ba" means baby, bath, bottle, sheep, and bye. "Wa-wa" means water, the baby is crying, and I want.

Okay, so you've studied all the preceding rules, committed them to memory, perhaps even taken a few notes. You're feeling confident and in control. Then out of left field comes...

Rule No. 8: Some words appear out of nowhere. They follow no rules; their origins are unknown. They simply are. My older daughter calls milk "gung." Why? You got me. All I know is that when Brittany wants her gung, she wants her gung, and no ap-juice will do. It has reached the point where she says, quite clearly, "Daddy, I want a cup of gung, please." We're hoping she'll outgrow it.  

K. Mahrer is a freelance writer, parent, and baby-talk expert.


Now for the test:

Translate the following excerpt from a recent Mahrer family supper conversation:

"Da. Me go bye-bye school day 'n' Mommy gotted me up and goded me to big pawk. Me had uh-oh on slide. Biig slide! Mommy scweemed. Me cwied 'n' cwied. Mommy kizzit gooded 'gehn. Ba boy hitted wi big wake. Me bitted biiig bow-wow. Do 'gain mawwow?!"

Confused? Go ask your mother.

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