Baby Talk.

Language is one of the most beautiful and unique ways of communicating. It allows one to convey themselves freely, their thoughts, feelings and perceptions. I find it amazing how DS expresses language, a way that is different to you and I, because this is all new to him. He was born a blank canvas and he is slowly digesting everything that is thrown at him.

As it stands, he is bilingual in English and Cantonese. To the untrained ear, his babble sounds like any other baby, however if you listen closely it is clear which language he is speaking. Somehow in his tiny brain, he has understood that English words have syllables and are to be pronounced in a certain way. His ‘words’ are sharp and blunt, using various short tones jumbled together to form a sentence. When speaking Cantonese, the pitch of his voice is much higher and there is more variance of tones. This is because in Cantonese, many words are differentiated solely by tone. The words are said much quicker and the pitch rises towards the end of the sentence. It is incredible he has unknowingly interpreted two disparate languages and can communicate what he perceives to be English and Cantonese.

The milestones for speech are mainly between birth and three years. I have noticed in DS that he becomes frustrated when he cannot find the right words to express himself, swiping items off the table and screaming until he is heard. We try to converse with him as much as possible, responding in full sentences, narrating his actions, to encourage him to express himself verbally. He has become very confident with his speech, often babbling away and keen to repeat new words. He would often drop the beginning or end of a word, often making him sound like he possesses a cockney accent.

Although DS is mostly spoken to in English, DH and I try our hardest to substitute an English word with the equivalent in Cantonese, where possible. I am not the most fluent of Cantonese speakers, in fact, the lack of knowledge I have is shameful. My ability is almost infantile, so at least I am safe for the next couple of years. I will have to send him to Chinese Sunday School when it is time to expand his vocabulary and learn to read and write. The most I can read and write is 1,2,3.

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