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.