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Language/Communication development is fascinating

Sunday, 26 May 2019

We have a child who is now reaching 2.5 years old, and watching the language develop is fascinating. No doubt every parent experiences a similar level of amazement, but it's still new to me.

Part of the fun of watching our child grow his communication skills is obviously his bilingual nature; his mother speaks Finnish to him, and I speak English. Of course the pair of us communicate in English almost exclusively, but by contrast basically every other conversation he hears will be in Finnish.

Today I was struck by a new milestone, as he said the word "dog" for the first time.

I continue to read books to him, and of course they're simple books with lots of pictures. For over a year now he's been able to follow simple instructions:

  • Can you point to the dog?
  • Can you point to the cat?

I remember being really impressed when he was coming up to two years old, and he was consistently able to play that game - despite the various dogs/cats being drawn in different styles, and from different perspectives. (Cartoon dogs vary a lot; but he always was able to recognize them. He's obviously internalized the nature of the dog...)

Anyway he speaks pretty well, getting into two-four word sentences now. His favourite words are predictably enough "Äiti" (mother) and "en" (no). But he's never said dog until today, instead he's said:

  • Woof-woof
    • Probably as a result of months of me saying "dogs go woof", "cats go miow", & etc.
  • Hauva
    • Finnish for "doggy".
  • Dana
    • We have a neighbour with a dog. This dog moved in with us for a few days, and he fell in love.
    • That dog is called Dana, so suddenly all dogs became Dana.

Anyway today we were walking to the park and he said "iso-dog", "iso" being Finnish for "big". Indeed there was a big dog in front of him.

Good dog. Good boy.

Some of our conversations are quite intricate, some of the instructions we give him he can clearly understand/follow along - in two languages - but when I hear him use a new word, especially an English word, I'm suddenly reminded how awesome everything is.

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