Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Decoding Baby Babble--Language in Motion

My younger daughter has been babbling up a storm. It's amazing to hear her, especially since my older two are autistic and non-verbal. I was trained as a languages/linguistics person, so this is something new for me.

"She's loud," my sister commented yesterday, trying to raise her voice over Sarah telling her about her day.

"Yeah," I agreed.

"She sounds like Mom."

"Mom babbles?"

"No. Well, yeah. I mean, she *sounds* like Mom. You know, how she talks. With everything, like her face and her hands."

Mom does talk loudly and fast with the occasional back slap to make her point. It's the Spanish side of the family (Filipino/Spanish/Chinese), the enthusiasm for life. And until Dee pointed it out, I didn't realize that Sarah had inherited that quality. It can be annoying or endearing, depending on whether or not you're in striking range.

A person's mannerisms can be a definite clue to their personality. If you watch someone in a coffee shop, you can pick up clues about their lives. Are they on a cell phone with their boss? Taking their toddler's hand out of the candy jar? Wanting their coffee *yesterday*, hurry up, they're on the clock? Flirting with the barista? Typing away on a laptop, oblivious to the rest of the world? Do they talk with a slow drawl, quickly, with an accent? Watch and listen, and you can learn a lot about character.

Today, I can tell Sarah is going to be just like my mom: loud, chatty and expressive. She'll definitely be quite a character.

All writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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