The Girl of late has been doing a lot to shake up my notions of what it means to communicate and all the different ways it’s possible to share a thought with another person.

DSC_4260The biggest preconception she’s radically challenged is the age at which an individual can create novel ways of communicating. We’ve been using baby signing with L, and she’s picked up on several signs that she uses regularly now: eat, more, and bath are among them. She understands a lot more — sleep, drink, potty/diaper change — but that’s not terribly impressive in that she already understands a great deal of spoken language. What shocked me recently about the signing was that L created her own sign for a word that she understands: swing. She waves her right arm back and forth at about shoulder level when she wants to go swing — which is pretty much constantly.

Another preconception: the ability to speak develops much later in children raised in a multilingual environment than it does in a monolingual home. L has a few words that she uses to great effect.

  • dac (“give”, pronounced “dach”)
  • tam (“there”, pronounced more or less as it appears)
  • down

She’s got a few more that she almost says, and at least one L-ism: “baaa” is bannana.

But her understanding of both Polish and English is amazing. We ask her many things in both Polish and English and she understands them both unhesitatingly.

All this culminates in the last unexpected change: an increase in crying. She knows what is possible with communication now — in a word, everything — but she lacks the skills to tell us everything she wants or needs. And the resulting frustration manifests itself in crying/screaming fits more often than we’d like.

The developments of the last few weeks, though, promise a quick end to these fits. In other words, the problem is the solution.

3 thoughts on “Communication

  1. Wow! I read this blog with interest and found your observations fascinating. As A is being brought up in a bilingual household, too, we wonder how his language development will progress. The fact that he’s a boy and bilingual already puts him in a different categories according to all the studies as boys speak later than girls and bilinguals speak later than monolinguals. At the moment there’s babbling, but no repeats of syllables, so he’s a bit “delayed” on that account.

    But I’m not worried, as I’m sure he’ll get there eventually. :)

  2. L’s babbling has taken on a more focused sound lately. Now that she knows she can successfully “babble” one or two words, she tries to imitate us more often. She was trying to say “diaper” with me yesterday.

    She also combined two signs yesterday: “more” and “diaper” when she was sitting on her potty chair. Add to it the fact that it was just before nap time and she never actually did more of anything, it seems that our little blessing has begun using communication to try to get her way.

    How very wonderfully grownup… :)

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