Emerging from the Babble

Lucy speaks English. This morning Jason said to her, "Clap, Lucy!" — without clapping himself —  and she clapped. This thrilled me, and I kept squealing "Clap, clap, clap!" Which she did a few times, then got bored and started pushing her hippo around. The point is she demonstrated clear, independent understanding of a word. Unlike the time when she was four months old and I said "hi" and she sighed "hi" back. I talked out myself of the idea that she really was saying hi, not just making a noise, but for a long time I kind of believed it.

She has been recognizing word-object connections for a while now. She knows who "Mamama" and "Dadada" and "Clifford" are. She has crawled to her bookshelf when I asked where the books are. She gets very excited and lunges for me when asked if she wants milk. She knows who "Duck" is, but doesn't understand that "Duck" is not only her blanket, but also the rubber thing in the tub and the quacking creature from "Old MacDonald."

She has said some words, but like that initial "hi," they may just be sounds. She clearly says Mamamamama, Dadadadada, and mimics "duck," "dog" and "book" in little grunts. Despite the fact that she doesn't say many other English words, she is quite a talker. While she's playing or padding around the house, she babbles, practing her phenomes and prosody in involved conversations with her toys or the dogs. She likes to "read" out loud, pointing and turning the pages.

Beyond the language she has already demonstrated, who knows what else she understands. Now is clearly the time to quit cursing. I know from "This American Life" that the favorite swear word among the nursery school set is the f-word. I'd hate for Lucy's early verbal aptitude to be first demonstrated through the proper use of
f-ing as an adverb.