It seems like everything is going pretty well with the girls as they approach their second birthday. Their sleep is back to normal after a period of backsliding, they're eating well, they're as agile and lively as a couple of ring-tailed lemurs, they're trying to become more independent, and holy crap are they learning to talk!
As I said, I haven't been reading much scientifical stuff about baby brains lately, but nonetheless I've got a theory about this one aspect of language acquisition. Ready? Here goes:
Kids will have plenty of opportunities to learn the "right" way to talk as they become woven into the stultifying institutional fabric of school and work. Allowing, and even encouraging, toddlers to develop their own patois nurtures their creativity and problem solving abilities, making them more productive, happy citizens.
That's why, when they form rudimentary sentences out of a mix of English, Vietnamese, made-up, and grossly mispronounced words, we reply to them in kind, rather than correcting them. It has nothing to do with the fact that we find their bumbling attempts at grasping grammar and vocabulary completely adorable and want them to remain babies forever. That's not it at all.
What follows is a glossary of some common terms from the pidgin English the twins have developed in order to express themselves and, mostly, to boss their parents around:
Bitey: [bai-tee] verb
Imperative form of bite. As in bedtime ritual where child demands parent bite her toes: "Daddy bitey toes!"
Bok-bok: [bok-bok] noun
1. Chicken in any form
2. Any thinly sliced meat.
[From the English bawk bawk, the sound a chicken makes]
Cold-cold [kold-kold] noun
Cookit [koo-kit] verb
1. To cook something. As in "Daddy cookit."
2. Imperative: cook something! As in "Daddy cookit!"
Cuddit [kud-dit] verb
1. To cut something
2. Imperative: cut something! [usage note: may take a direct object, as in, "Daddy cuddit bok-bok!"]
Daddyjuice [Da-dee-joos] noun
Beer, wine, spirits, or coffee
Dilam [dee-lahm] verb
To go to work, as in "Mommy dilam." (And, very infrequently, "Daddy dilam") [From the Vietnamese đi làm]
Dooty [doo-tee] adjective
Dirty, or displaying similarly distasteful or suspicious qualities. Often an interjection used to express concern or panic about perceived uncleanliness.
2. "Help me!"
Jurbage [jur-budge, jur-bich] noun
2. Anything unappealing, slimy, amorphous, not immediately recognizable
Jurbage chuck [jur-bitch chuk] noun
1. Garbage truck
2. Any loud vehicle, vehicle that beeps when it backs up, vehicle that has a high-performance exhaust sound, mommy's car
3. Anything noisy and terrifying
Mommyjuice [Mom-mee-joos] noun
Hot tea. May also be used, with pointing gestures, as encouragement for mommy to take sips of daddy juice
Muh [muh] verb
Open, release, unscrew [from the Vietnamese, mở, to open ]
Poopy [poo-pee] adjective
Having any of the characteristics of feces; e.g., "poopy jurbage."
Rollits [Rol-itz] noun
Any thinly sliced food product that is rolled into a cylindrical shape; e.g., "bok-bok rollits"
Sua [Soo-uh] noun
Milk [from the Vietnamese, sữa, milk]
Sef [sef] verb
1. To do something oneself
2. "I'll do it myself"
3. "Leave me alone, I don't need your help, get away from me!"
[from the English, self]
[from the Vietnamese, thúi, smelly]
Yoti [yo-tee] noun
Zyeppy [zye-pee] noun
Sandal, flip-flop, open-toed shoe [from the Vietnamese, dép, sandal]