Children's first words

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Velifer
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Velifer » Thu May 08, 2008 7:54 pm UTC

Baby Signs! Oh the amount of screaming we avoided!

Having a four-month old that could answer the questions "What's wrong?" and "What do you want?" took much of the guessing (and cries of displeasure) out of the process.

Milk! Bath! Food! Shoes! Book! More! More! MORE!

When he did start to talk, it was "Dada" and "Mama," and the words he signed. Then as his language developed, it became word-clauses: "like-it" and negation: "NO like-it!"

Now he's almost two, and he just talks and talks and talks. When he gets tired, he tends to go back to signs, though.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby ZLVT » Sat May 10, 2008 2:32 am UTC

Hmmm, interesting introspect, keep us posted, I want to know how this all works out in the long run.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Eruantale » Fri May 23, 2008 4:29 am UTC

My first word was apparently bawang, which is "garlic" in Ilokano. I don't remember it, obviously.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby JayDee » Fri May 23, 2008 5:36 am UTC

The story I'm given is that my first word was bakos or something like that.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Sebeka2 » Thu May 29, 2008 6:24 am UTC

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Re: Children's first words

Postby leradny » Sun Jun 01, 2008 6:31 pm UTC

I wish I could remember my first word.

But here are my two cents in the multi-lingual children discussion: As someone who understands two languages fluently--Tagalog and English--but can only speak and write fluently in one (obvious), I actually do vouch for the 'one parent uses one language' method. My parents switched between Tagalog and English randomly when speaking to me, so I just used the language I heard more often outside the house. As a result:

1. While I find it easier to learn a different language (Italian) than other people, I make a point of not using any English words unless they're really technical or I don't know the word that applies (asparagus, for example), and I rarely use slang even in English. Thus, I come off as a little stiff or old-fashioned when I'm (hopefully) neither.

2. I really dislike any media with gratuitous foreign phrases besides titles or names. Japanese and English are some of the worst offenders, especially when mixed with each other--I never thought "Hi, everybody" would sound so grating when said with a clear Japanese accent, but there you have it. I also find myself between amusement and intense irritation when Americans try to pronounce foreign words.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby reflectia » Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:32 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Apparently billigual children end up building a "mega-language" which contains both quite often. If you live near an area full of bilingual people (like Quebec), you'll run into it if you overhear families talking to each other: words swap between languages 5 times a sentence.

Having grown up in a bilingual household, I can attest to this. I grew up around both Chinese and English and now our family speaks in something we like to call "Chinglish". I don't recall it ever being a problem that both my parents spoke both English (however mixed up and wrong grammar-wise) and Chinese - I can speak both fluently today, the English more so than the Chinese because of my location, but I can still manage a decent conversation in Mandarin.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby msittig » Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:22 am UTC

My wife and I will be raising a bilingual (Mandarin Chinese/English) child here in Shanghai. Currently we have two rules:

1. Mom/Dad switch languages spoken to each other every month. Currently, June is Chinese month.
2. Mom speaks Chinese to baby Charlotte, Dad speaks English to baby Charlotte. At all times.

I grew up in a missionary home in Spain, and my parent's couldn't afford fancy int'l schools so went to ordinary public schools. I had better grades in "Lenguaje" class (Spanish) than my classmates, but I would make the occasional obscure (and embarrassing) grammar/usage mistake that resulted from a lack of cultural background. Now my Spanish is frozen at a seventh grade level, minus depreciation from living outside of Spain for 15 years. I don't plan to pass it on to Charlotte; two is enough for now.

To make this post relevant, Charlotte's first word was probably "mama" though I don't think she knows what it means yet. We've heard that kids in bilingual homes learn to speak later so we're not too worried about that, even at Charlotte's 13 months. In fact, our home is not just bilingual because my wife's mother is living with us and she spends most of her time in her local dialect, hehe.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby steewi » Mon Jun 02, 2008 6:37 am UTC

Oh, please let her learn dialect. Shanghainese is awesome.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby msittig » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:49 am UTC

I think Shanghainese is 老好听 too, but Charlotte will have to pick that up on her own. "Local dialect" in our case means "湖南话" (益阳, to be exact).

The funny thing is that my wife, of all people, has been making lots of Shanghainese friends recently through her online business. Now after several years in SH she's finally picking up all these Shanghainese ticks and it annoys the heck out of the prescriptivist in me (and I miss the cute Hunanese accent she had when we were dating).

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Re: Children's first words

Postby Whitney » Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:44 am UTC

I, too, had a first sentence instead of a first word... "I love you".

I was really, really young, though. I probably didn't even know what it meant. I was the first grandchild, so I heard 'I love you' quite a bit.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby Turambar » Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:50 am UTC

Mine was "Bubble", during a car trip, apparently. No idea what prompted it.

My child's first language will be teh languij of teh intratubes: Lolcats. Followed by Spanglish.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby carbohydrated » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:39 am UTC

My first word was 'video'.

The first comprehensible word I ever heard by baby cousin say was "ash-hooo", Meet the Fockers style.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Freyja » Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:49 am UTC

According to family legend, my first word was "no". And considering i probably heard it more than any other word, i'm willing to believe this legend.

I always find it fun to just listen to the noises babies make. I don't understand what they're trying to say most of the time, but i do take mental note of the noises they make most often. Mostly because it seems that babies have a much easier time making palatial sounds than bilabial sounds, and yet many people report being able to say something like "mama" before "dada". I don't know if it's a culturally relative thing or what.

And as far as foreign languages go, i'm all for early exposure. I have a natural affinity for languages. I have super ears or something. My dad and i attribute it to the fact that i was surrounded by several different languages from the day i was born. My sister isn't quite as extreme as i am, but her first language was Spanish and even though she'd fully switched to English by the time she was five, she's having a very easy time re-learning Spanish.

Even if it's not your intention to raise polyglot children, it's a good idea to regularly expose them to foreign sounds because they'll have an easier time manipulating languges in general.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby gibberishtwist » Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:52 am UTC

reflectia wrote:Having grown up in a bilingual household, I can attest to this. I grew up around both Chinese and English and now our family speaks in something we like to call "Chinglish". I don't recall it ever being a problem that both my parents spoke both English (however mixed up and wrong grammar-wise) and Chinese - I can speak both fluently today, the English more so than the Chinese because of my location, but I can still manage a decent conversation in Mandarin.


My best friend is in the same boat; Her parents emigrated from Taiwan so she grew up bilingual. Ever since she and I became friends, I've gotten a lot of exposure to "Chinglish," and I love hearing it. Her parents and brother have a harder time with English since none of them came here until later in their lives, but my friend was born here so she doesn't have even a trace of accent. I just love hearing, "Chinese Chinese Chinese, I ate some McDonalds earlier. Chinese Chinese. McDonalds. Chinese Chinese. MCDONALDS! I ATE ALREADY CHINESE CHINESE CHINESE!" Funny stuff.

Also, my first word was cookie. Badass.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Benfrenchman » Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:31 am UTC

My first word was, for some inexplicable reason, "tractor". I used to grip anything remotely ring-shaped and pretend it was a steering wheel and just yell "tractor!" over and over again. I was a late speaker.

Now, at age 22, I wouldn't call myself a tractor fan.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby steewi » Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:48 am UTC

gibberishtwist wrote:
reflectia wrote:Having grown up in a bilingual household, I can attest to this. I grew up around both Chinese and English and now our family speaks in something we like to call "Chinglish". I don't recall it ever being a problem that both my parents spoke both English (however mixed up and wrong grammar-wise) and Chinese - I can speak both fluently today, the English more so than the Chinese because of my location, but I can still manage a decent conversation in Mandarin.


My best friend is in the same boat; Her parents emigrated from Taiwan so she grew up bilingual. Ever since she and I became friends, I've gotten a lot of exposure to "Chinglish," and I love hearing it. Her parents and brother have a harder time with English since none of them came here until later in their lives, but my friend was born here so she doesn't have even a trace of accent. I just love hearing, "Chinese Chinese Chinese, I ate some McDonalds earlier. Chinese Chinese. McDonalds. Chinese Chinese. MCDONALDS! I ATE ALREADY CHINESE CHINESE CHINESE!" Funny stuff.

Also, my first word was cookie. Badass.


Slightly OT: I was just in the supermarket about an hour ago and heard a conversation that to me went something like: "GREEK GREEK, you know what I mean?" "Yeah, but GREEK GREEK" "Oh, I see." All the English was a normal Australian accent. I love code-switchers.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby ave_matthew » Wed Jun 25, 2008 4:22 am UTC

God I love code switchers


Code switching is fun, FRENCH FRENCH?
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Re: Children's first words

Postby ZLVT » Wed Jun 25, 2008 7:10 am UTC

ave_matthew wrote:
God I love code switchers


Code switching is fun, FRENCH FRENCH?


agreed, but I try to avoid it, to me, code switching is a shameful mark that I can't communicate fully magyarul :(
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Benfrenchman » Wed Jun 25, 2008 1:44 pm UTC

On the facebook wall of a Welsh friend of mine, someone's written a post that goes approximately:

WELSH WELSH I fucking knew it WELSH WELSH WELSH the twat WELSH WELSH And not just that, but WELSH WELSH WELSH WELSH Right up the arse.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby ave_matthew » Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:
ave_matthew wrote:
God I love code switchers


Code switching is fun, FRENCH FRENCH?


agreed, but I try to avoid it, to me, code switching is a shameful mark that I can't communicate fully magyarul :(


I don't see that it as a mark of shame. I see it as a mark of inattentiveness, All people who speak two languages do it, although it can be embarrassing when you do it to a monolingual.
*I once asked a guy from Brittan C'est quoi? without thinking about it. he just gave me a blank stare, so I just sort of pretended I hadn't said anything.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Yakk » Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:17 pm UTC

gibberishtwist wrote:Also, my first word was cookie. Badass.


Nevermind mom or dad -- you knew what was important. :)
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Re: Children's first words

Postby steewi » Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:27 am UTC

Benfrenchman wrote:On the facebook wall of a Welsh friend of mine, someone's written a post that goes approximately:

WELSH WELSH I fucking knew it WELSH WELSH WELSH the twat WELSH WELSH And not just that, but WELSH WELSH WELSH WELSH Right up the arse.


Awesome. And you just want to know what the rest of it is. I keep trying to code switch, but I'm not good at doing it fluently, and I keep doing it to people who don't understand.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby gibberishtwist » Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:36 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
gibberishtwist wrote:Also, my first word was cookie. Badass.


Nevermind mom or dad -- you knew what was important. :)


It's a word that's served me well my whole life. I had my priorities straight, that's for sure.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby lamito » Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:58 am UTC

my older brother's first word was "up". so naturally my parents bought him "great day for up" the book. mine was "josh" (my older brother's name) in a very annoyed tone of voice.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Encarnacion » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:07 am UTC

These posts are amazing! I especially like the switching back and forth between languages.

I do not know what my first word was because my parents did not think it important to keep track on that kind of thing. But I do agree whole heartedly with the idea of early exposure of different languages. I was raised pretty much English-only, but grew up in a neighborhood at least 60% Mexican. There was the hustle and bustle of my neighbors and the neighbor kids around me, but no significant amounts of Spanish were spoken to me. When I started learning Spanish in school at 14, my pronunciation was a lot better than some of my classmates, who had grown up in areas very different from mine. Now I work at a foster home in Mexico, and I'm pretty sure one of our kids' first words was "agua" the word for water and drinks made with water. He always repeats it after every meal. :) And we think another said "Tia!", the word for aunt, and the kids' designation of the workers. It is so cool to get to be there when a kid says their first word!

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Re: Children's first words

Postby Monika » Thu Aug 28, 2008 5:32 pm UTC

My first words were:
Mama - mom
Putte - incorrect for Puppe - doll
Mall or Lall or something like this - incorrect for Ball - ball
Mampe - incorrect for Lampe - lamp
Make - incorrect for Schokolade - chocolate

My mom remembers that pretty clearly, because that was all I could say at age 2. My grandmother tried to calm her down, having had a child that started talking well after age 2. And she was right.

My little sister on the other hand talked in complete sentences at age 2 ... sentences like from a book or poetry, my grandmother says.

btilly wrote:
ZLVT wrote:hmmm, yeah, I intend for my children to be at least trilingual (Engloish, esperanto and magyar, might go for 4, if my partner has her own language) so signlangauge may be good.

Don't do this. Young children who are learning multiple languages need to keep them straight somehow. What I've read is that the best way is to make each caregiver only talk verbally in one language. (Sign language and verbal languages are sufficiently distinct that kids don't get them confused.) So you should pick one language, probably Magyar, and insist on talking in that one. Your SO can talk in another. And so on.

A kid who grows up speaking more than one language can easily learn others later. But if you try to talk multiple, the kid will get confused and only learn to talk in one.

For those who asked for cites: There was a (non-scientific) article in the German "Eltern" ("parents") magazin, sometime between 1995 and 2000, that advised that each parent strictly keep with one language. They don't seem to have an online archive of that time. There was a scientific article about it on http://www.uni-mannheim.de two years ago on the front page ... they moved it someplace that I can't find currently. This article also advised parents not to have one parent speak in a language to the child that the parent doesn't speak perfectly, e.g. non-German parents in Germany should talk in their language to their children and not in German if they know they make errors in grammar, word usage and so on, as the children would pick up those errors and stick with them, and prefer them over the correct wording they hear from pre-school teachers and so on (because little kids tend to believe their parents do everything right). Also, I had a woman in a course once whose kids grew up quadrilingual (because they moved around in Europe), and they didn't stick to the one-parent-one-language rule, and she said her kids, the older one already being a teenager, had serious trouble with language, they were not able to speak any one of the languages perfectly.

I haven't seen articles or studies about a third language being picked up from a grandparent, preschool or the street, but my guess from the other ones would be that this would not cause problems.

ZLVT wrote:Seems like solid enough advice, that being said, I was raised billingual, however, I can't rmember how. I know my parents tried to get me to do Magyar at home (which I used to refuse, now I physically can't speak to them in English) and I did English at pre-school (amusing story, my english was good, like really good but i didnt use it, they -the preschool- refused to belive that I could speak english until I asked "Nanny, can I put this [a used tissue] in the bin?" [it was a strict place and I didnt want to put a toe wrong] I can vividly remember the look of shock horror when the realised I could speak) Anyway, so I'll have to ask about that. I figure that once my child is 3 or 4 they will be well versed enough that we can move on to some Esperanto.


You can start teaching your kid a foreign language at age 4 (that's when they can speak their native language sufficiently), but keep it a foreign language, don't switch to that language for regular talk. I.e. give your kids lessons in, sing songs, watch movies (not available for Esperanto ;)) and the like, but keep this separate.

steewi wrote:
gibberishtwist wrote:
reflectia wrote:Having grown up in a bilingual household, I can attest to this. I grew up around both Chinese and English and now our family speaks in something we like to call "Chinglish". I don't recall it ever being a problem that both my parents spoke both English (however mixed up and wrong grammar-wise) and Chinese - I can speak both fluently today, the English more so than the Chinese because of my location, but I can still manage a decent conversation in Mandarin.

My best friend is in the same boat; Her parents emigrated from Taiwan so she grew up bilingual. Ever since she and I became friends, I've gotten a lot of exposure to "Chinglish," and I love hearing it. Her parents and brother have a harder time with English since none of them came here until later in their lives, but my friend was born here so she doesn't have even a trace of accent. I just love hearing, "Chinese Chinese Chinese, I ate some McDonalds earlier. Chinese Chinese. McDonalds. Chinese Chinese. MCDONALDS! I ATE ALREADY CHINESE CHINESE CHINESE!" Funny stuff.

Also, my first word was cookie. Badass.


Slightly OT: I was just in the supermarket about an hour ago and heard a conversation that to me went something like: "GREEK GREEK, you know what I mean?" "Yeah, but GREEK GREEK" "Oh, I see." All the English was a normal Australian accent. I love code-switchers.

Hehe. I did this a lot with the other German exchange students when I was in the US. We would talk in German, but would use English for any specific stuff, relating to school or when it would be too difficult or awkward to translate it to German. One day the other German kid in my history class and me talked somewhat like this: "Hey, gehst du zum first lunch oder zum third lunch? Ich hab normalerweise second lunch, aber heute schreiben wir in social studies ein quiz, und damit wir nicht unterbrechen, haben wir heute first lunch." And a non-German speaking kid stood right next to us, stared at us, and then asked: "Are you talking English or German?"
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Re: Children's first words

Postby msittig » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:13 am UTC

Just a quick update, now that Charlotte is speaking more at 15 months. Not counting the ambiguous mama and baba, her first English word was "up" and first Chinese word was 谢谢, followed by "down" and 要, which sounds more like "niao!" for some reason. Now she can say about a dozen words combined.

The cute thing is that grandma also taught her 下, so she's entering a stage where she has to figure out who to say "down" to and who she has to say 下 to. Very fun.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby howardh » Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:16 am UTC

Monika wrote:
btilly wrote:
ZLVT wrote:hmmm, yeah, I intend for my children to be at least trilingual (Engloish, esperanto and magyar, might go for 4, if my partner has her own language) so signlangauge may be good.

Don't do this. Young children who are learning multiple languages need to keep them straight somehow. What I've read is that the best way is to make each caregiver only talk verbally in one language. (Sign language and verbal languages are sufficiently distinct that kids don't get them confused.) So you should pick one language, probably Magyar, and insist on talking in that one. Your SO can talk in another. And so on.

A kid who grows up speaking more than one language can easily learn others later. But if you try to talk multiple, the kid will get confused and only learn to talk in one.

For those who asked for cites: There was a (non-scientific) article in the German "Eltern" ("parents") magazin, sometime between 1995 and 2000, that advised that each parent strictly keep with one language. They don't seem to have an online archive of that time. There was a scientific article about it on http://www.uni-mannheim.de two years ago on the front page ... they moved it someplace that I can't find currently. This article also advised parents not to have one parent speak in a language to the child that the parent doesn't speak perfectly, e.g. non-German parents in Germany should talk in their language to their children and not in German if they know they make errors in grammar, word usage and so on, as the children would pick up those errors and stick with them, and prefer them over the correct wording they hear from pre-school teachers and so on (because little kids tend to believe their parents do everything right). Also, I had a woman in a course once whose kids grew up quadrilingual (because they moved around in Europe), and they didn't stick to the one-parent-one-language rule, and she said her kids, the older one already being a teenager, had serious trouble with language, they were not able to speak any one of the languages perfectly.

I haven't seen articles or studies about a third language being picked up from a grandparent, preschool or the street, but my guess from the other ones would be that this would not cause problems.


I can attest to this. I've learned "regular" cantonese (I don't know what this is called so I'll just refer to this as canto), taishanese and french while growing up. My neighbours were all french so I learned it from them. My parents both talked to me in cantonese and my grandparents, who occupy the second floor of this duplexe and whom I used to visit almost daily, spoke taishanese. I've noticed after the first few years in chinese school that my chinese was weird and I always spoke oddly in a way that I always got blank stares; I never understood why it was so, and I just stopped talking in chinese school unless my teacher explicitly asked me to read. I only found out last year the reason behind this. My mom always talked using a mix of canto and taishanese so I've learned all the pronunciations wrong and wasn't able to properly differentiate canto from taishanese while talking.

I found that having these three languages split between three groups of people really helped. I was as fluent in french, canto (the cantonese-taishanese hybrid variety of canto) and taishanese at a very young age.

I had minimal exposure to english until I started grade 1 (I think I was 6 years old then). My parents have taught me a bit of english as a second language. I was almost completely immersed in an english environment in grade 1 and was fluent in english by grade 2. I now use english as a first language.
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Re: Children's first words

Postby Dingbats » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:50 pm UTC

My parents say my first word was "BMW" (pronounced /"beEm%ve/ in Swedish, but I pronounced it /bembe/). My interest in cars has completely vanished since.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby Velifer » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

In reference to my teaching my son baby signs:
ZLVT wrote:Hmmm, interesting introspect, keep us posted, I want to know how this all works out in the long run.


Well, he's 27 months old now, and fully conversant. He makes use of adverbs correctly, includes chains of adjectives to modify common nouns when he doesn't have a more specific word, and often has very elaborate sentence structures. He plays word games.

He also modifies his speech based on who he's speaking to. (Adults who talk to him as though he's a two-year-old get very simple sentences from him, spoken slowly and a little louder, like an Amurican speaking to a foreigner/idiot.) He has crystal clear enunciation, perhaps from my tendency to over-enunciate slightly when I talk to him.

I do think that baby signs worked. For being two, he will begin to throw a tantrum, stop himself, take a deep breath and explain why he's unhappy. Words worked for him before he could say them. He's not gonna stop now!

/prideful boasting.
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx

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Re: Children's first words

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:21 am UTC

I have no idea what mine was. My parents do not remember.

I don't know my brother's first word, but his first complete sentence was "What's that?" and his second was, "Daddy, daddy, help me, help me!"
And I'm -2.

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Re: Children's first words

Postby Monika » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:22 am UTC

Were you chasing him? ;)
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