August 19, 2008

Language Is A Virus

And he said: Hey! Are you talking to me?

Or are you just practicing
For one of those performances of yours?

Over the last three weeks, young Master B's vocabulary has exploded. I can't say if it's his addiction to the My Baby Can Talk series on the video i-Pod or if it's just developmentally the right time. Truly, these baby sign language DVDs have earned their worth and then some. I think he would watch these same two, 35-minute videos in repeat mode all day if I let him.

On the way back from the Bronx zoo last week, Parental Unit 2 and yours truly started an Excel sheet of Bert's words to date. We even took the time to break down into columns spoken words, words that are signed, and words he understands but does not pronounce clearly or substitutes (eg, quack is now used for 'duck,' down is used to indicate both 'pick me up' and 'put me down'.) Pretty nerdy, I know, but we're fascinated by how some words come to Bertram through ASL signs, then become spoken and how some words enter his vocabulary, clearly from exposure to the DVDs (and good ol' parental reinforcement, although we're OD'd on My Baby Can Talk), but skip the signing stage and go right to the spoken stage.

This past week, he has become more parrot-like, echoing certain words back to us, regardless of whether he truly understands what those words are. The word stinky comes to mind. You can guess when I might say that. Anyway, now Bertram repeats the word when I say it, as in

Parental Unit 1: "Whew-wee, this diaper is stinky!"
Bertram: "Stin-ky!"

Now I need to be mindful of my tendencies to elongate my vowels theatrically as in, "This diaper is stank-kay!"

Apparently, the next step is putting two words together in a phrase. I'm sure this will inspire some creative boddler phrasing.

And, a quick coda, I think it is high time we put the word boddler to rest. Bertram is a fully functioning bi-pedal boy with 50 words at his command. So hence forth, Bertram is a toddler.

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