May 10, 2010 By: erik Category: News, Offspring 159 views

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Slam Dunk!Nora said her first word today, at an age of 13 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days. She’s a little behind the curve, but then she’s behind a lot of curves. And what most parents consider a word, I don’t. For me, for a baby to have said a word, it needs to occur within proper context, and only within that context.

Nora’s been voicing phonemes that sometimes make words by chance for a while now. It doesn’t count if she says “mama” or “dada” when she sees her mother or father if she continues to say it when she is by herself or seeing another object or person that doesn’t have that name. She’s been doing that for months, but it’s not clear that she understands that the sounds have specific meanings. She could say pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, but if we’re not talking about coal miners, lungs or silicate dust, then it’s just out of context jibberish.

The word she said today was pronounced well, used in the right context, and was a clear request for something that she obviously wanted. She was sitting on the floor, and she grabbed my hands, one in each of hers (this was the previous way of requesting a lift), and she said,


On subsequent requests, sometimes she would say “Puh!!” instead, but when repeated, “Puh! Puh! Puh!” is indistinguishable from “Up! Up! Up!” For the rest of the day she’s been practicing her voiceless bilabial plosives, often resulting in salivary ejections.

It’s far from perfect, but it’s the first time she’s actually tried to communicate something using her voice. Word up.

  • Meaghan

    How fantastic!! Up! The first of many commands to be made, I’m sure. Adorable.

  • aquariumdrinker

    Since we’re talking about Pixar joints (I didn’t read past the title, but that’s what we’re talking about, right?), let me just say that I have been very careful to put my kid in front of the TV only when good stuff is on. Stuff that I don’t mind being in the same room as. I’m not fanatical, mind you. Other stuff creeps in – maybe her friend loans her a copy of the Little Mermaid or Pocahontas (oh god they are horrible movies), or she gets a copy of Bedknobs and Broomsticks for Christmas (seriously?) and I roll with the punches. Anyway, it turns out that 3 yr olds are not very, howyousay, discriminating when it comes to movie choices. I’m feeling that my vigilance has paid off. Even though I am now forced to permit the occasional bit of tripe, the bulk of her library comprises examples of decent storytelling.

    Take from this what you will.

    Also, I’m kidding about not reading your post. Arica would have a more nuanced opinion (AT has recently been asking questions like “but how can it be that she NEVER stops talking?”), but I think that’s great. I am an unabashed supporter of kids talking.

    • We’re pretty controlling when it comes to the TV too, only letting our 4 and 5 year olds watch pre-vetted shows or DVDs. Otherwise how would they have developed a love of Miyazaki?
      On the other hand, some well-meaning relatives have given them godawful CGI Barbie DVDs too, so the system’s not watertight.

  • GO NORA!

    I find positive reinforcement works wonders in speeding up Eva’s language acquisition, even if her babbles start out as only coincidental. So give Nora a few delighted rounds of applause for me next time she says “up”. 🙂

  • Just think of what could be next! A nod to Cameo (Word Up), perhaps ghetto slang (mad ups), a job as an elevator operator. An impressive first word, indeed. Well put, Miss Nora.

  • You are so happy when they first start speaking. This is soon followed by wanting them to BE QUIET! 🙂

    • Oh, I already want her to BE QUIET, but it’d be nice to have some idea of what the heck she was requesting, as silly as it surely is.