The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

Toddler Etymology

As my daughter careens towards her second birthday (in 10 days), I have noticed the rapid-fire addition of new words to her vocabulary. There are words she has said for months that are getting clearer (“bye” and “mama”) and completely new words that have somewhat curious origins. “Hop, hop, hop,” she says as she makes little leaps through the living room. As a lover of language, I have to wonder where she hears and learns the meaning of these new words. Without being too boastful, I must admit that I have a VERY bright daughter. She usually only needs to see an action or item once or twice and remembers it.

There was a morning a few months ago that I walked into her room and she smiled up at me and said, “Dude!” It cracked me up, but in hindsight I think she was saying “juice” and I remember her being a little cranky until I filled her Sippy cup. Now when she wants juice, she sounds a bit like a drunken sorority girl: “joooosh….jooosh!” When she wants to watch television, particularly piled up in the middle of Mommy’s bed, she points to my bedroom and utters, “EEE EEE.” Just no time for consonants, I guess.

She has used the word “bookah” for several months when she wants to be read a story. Recently, she starting using the same word for her little ride-on toy that looks like a bicycle. Is it laziness? Confusion? Similarly, she uses very almost identical names for her Grandpa (my father) and her Poppy (a very close friend – practically family). The most minute difference between “Gaw Paw” and “Papa” in confusing to only those of us who aren’t paying attention, but she knows who she’s talking about.

One of the funniest issues lately is that she refuses to say one particular word. My best good friend, who we call Granny Puddin’, keeps her during the day and wants desperately for the Pie to say “Granny.” When we sit around the dinner table, the Pie points at and names off everyone: “Mama, Poppy, BeBe (that’s her)” and then gestures noncommittally and murmurs something indistinct while pointing to Granny. The Pie loves her Granny – no question about it – but I can’t figure out why she won’t say it. The best I can come up with is that she knows Granny wants it REALLY BAD! Ah…early onset Terrible Twos.

She can identify animals, but she only makes the noises, she doesn’t say their names. We have a book called “A Trip to the Zoo” where she lifts the flaps and reveals an animal. Invariably, she will confidently lift the flap and hiss, roar, growl, screech or howl. Ask her to show you the snake, lion, tiger, bird or monkey and she shows no hesitation. What’s up with that?

Shapes – she has no clue, and I really think she couldn’t care less what the difference between a square and a triangle is. But, by God, she knows a circle! Every round thing used to be a ball, but now it’s a “kurkle.” And don’t get me started on colors! Every color in the rainbow, without fail, is “geeen” (green). I have gone through an 8 color crayon box with her and she identified each one as being green. Ask her to show you the red or blue or yellow crayon and she will point to it. But she says it’s green and there is not arguing with her. She’s two, it’s her job.

On occasion, the Pie has little meltdowns where she yells unintelligible words while waving her chubby little fingers in the air and points at me. She feels strongly about whatever topic she happens to be expounding on, but she’s lucky I don’t know what she’s saying. It’s the only reason I let her live!


April 10, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. LOL, oh you are bringing back fond memories! My daughter went through a spell between the ages of 2 and 3 where EVERY number was “8”. She could point to numbers, she could even repeat the numbers counting up to about 10, yet everything was 8. How many cats in that picture? 8. How many noodles do you want? 8. Hold old is Daddy? 8.
    I still believe that it was just contrariness! =)

    Comment by Nece | April 12, 2009 | Reply

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