Monday, January 15, 2007
Chunk and the Amazing Expanded Vocabulary
Chunk learns things in a strange series of starts and stops. He'll use the same, limited vocabulary for weeks at a time, usually just endlessly repeating "cooooo-key?" and "no!" then the very next day say five new words, even using them in a short sentence, as if it's no big deal at all. As if he's known these new words the entire time. As if he's just nailed his verbal dismount and couldn't care less what the judges give him, passing them only a look of cold distain, because he knows he's just that good.We're fairly certain that some of his new words and phrases came from day care. "No mas!" continues to be an important daily utterance and "sit down!" is a new addition we've all grown to love. Who wouldn't love it when a toddler orders you to sit down, so he can climb on you and punch you in the face? Oh, yeah, he's hitting now. This is the glamorous part of parenthood that I've been looking forward to since his birth.What I find truly amusing is not just the words, but how he uses them. Take the previously mentioned "cooooo-key." Whenever I'm making a meal for him, I make the mistake of asking him something harmless, like, "Do you want some polluted water with your stale bread crusts?" and because I've opened the door with a question, even a rhetorical one, he chimes in with his demands for cookies. When he burps, he follows it up with "kimmie!" ("excuse me" for those of you who don't speak toddler). When I burp, he also says, "kimmie" like the yard tall, Ms. Manners inspired tyrant that he is. My favorite bit of recent vocabulary is his use of the word, "Nice!" whenever he approves of something. It's not just that he says it, but its that he performs it, by letting it slide from his mouth in a quasi-drawl, while nodding his head, and flashing a cheesy smile. Denver Mom assures me that he learned this at home and it wasn't something he picked up from her. I'm still trying to figure out what she means.Another thing that amazes and amuses me is how some words are perfectly formed, enunciated with precision and care, and so many others a garbled mess of sounds that only just barely recognizable. I would estimate that over seventy percent of his vocabulary is still in that jumbled mess of sounds that includes "kimmie," and I'd go so far as to estimate that only half of that number are words that other people can understand. We're constantly translating for him, even for people who are around him a lot (family, coworkers, the whino we sometimes hire to watch him when we get that persistent eyelid twitch that usually accompanies a stress headache, etc.).In some ways, I feel like he isn't speaking as well or clearly as I expected, but then other days, he just blows me away with his understanding of language and the ease by which he's willing to try it out himself. Sometimes the results are jaw dropping. Other times, they take a little coaxing and patience before they really shine.For real fun, ask him to say, "Truck." That'll make the grandparents blush every time.