Key words

The sprog has reached the age where she is becoming extremely vocal and is beginning to make herself understood in language terms (as opposed to the point and screech approach). For example, “uppoo” often means “would you be so kind as to furnish me with a piece of fruit? Apple would do nicely”. This is not unequivocal, since “uppoo” (usually accompanied by a noticeable pungency to the air) also translates as “I’m ready to be changed now, so you’d better finish that chocolate mousse quickly, because you won’t be wanting it later”.

It’s extremely gratifying for all parties concerned when there is a genuine meeting of the minds. Unfortunately, these occasional bursts of clarity are tightly interwoven with the opaque and utterly obscure. My Toddler/English lexicon grows daily, but it is still woefully inadequate. Every so often, the youngster will start to babble away in what sounds to the untrained ear like fluent Hungarian or some other Eastern European language. All the adults in the room glance at one another with that uneasy ‘did anyone get that or do we send for the exorcist?’ look on their faces. The sprog, in turn, can clearly see that no pennies are dropping.

This is probably why most kids develop ‘issues’ as they grow older. They’ve had to cope with the subtle trauma of having parents who appear to be just a little bit thick.


21 thoughts on “Key words

  1. What are you on about? “Uppoo” is obviously a perfect homonym for both definitions…
    Your wee girl is evidently a lady of few words: count your blessings!


  2. Ah. So now I know what Zube Boy was trying to tell me. Thanks for defining ‘uppoo’ for me. Dang, I wish he liked apples.

    Seriously, though, I LOVE when kids first start talking. Especially when they go off telling you a story in their own little langueage (or Hungarian). It’s fabulous.


  3. That’s “only child” syndrome. My daughter was speaking like an uppity grown up by the time she was 5.

    None of that codependent GOO GOO to keep ’em down πŸ˜‰


  4. bee: The sad thing is that your youngster’s words have a totally different meaning.

    anne: Tried that. Still can’t sleep.

    zube girl: I’m still keeping my bell, book & candle on hand – just in case.

    terri: We make the attempt, at any rate.

    livewire: Babel Fish really needs to get its act together.

    tj: Damn!


  5. My son used to run around shouting “imbeyon!!!” and for the life of me I could not figure out what that meant. Finally about 6 months later we rented the movie “toy story” and buzz light year says “to infinity *and beyond*” and I finally clicked he was shouting “and beyond” not something in a different language.

    I wrote/write all the funny things my boys have said over the years, it’s the only way I can remember them.


  6. I noticed that my 18 month old speaks to me in his own language, but when he talks to his dad, he uses sign language. Mostly with the little finger pointing in the direction of what he is wanting. Maybe he thinks Dad is a bit slow in understanding his demands. Like this morning he wanted leftover pizza which I left in the oven overnight – he pointed to his mouth, ran to the kitchen and went to stand in front of the oven pulling on the handles. Dad understood (eventually).


  7. angel: I’m hoping that by the time she hits her teens she’ll be going through the ‘ignoring parents’ phase, so it won’t be an issue.

    banquo: The boys, or the funny things?

    buddess: Interestingly enough, I also understand the non-verbal stuff better. Actions speak louder (and all that).


  8. The funny things – that way I can remember how cute they were compared to the sometimes moody, very often whiny, and usually attempting to kill each other beings they are now that live solemly in my house and eat everything. It’s the funny stuff that keeps me going – cos I know that funny stuff is still inside them somewhere – and once every two or three years it will surface for about 10 seconds. I live for that. Thats why I write them down LOL !!


  9. Oh the joys. My boy spoke two languages from the beginning (English and Italian) which made life even more interesting. Couldn’t figure out what the hell he was saying. And when his grandma started teaching him Afrikaans…


  10. Kids are at their cutest when they first learn to speak. Mispronounciation and a mixture of sounds only they can understand, makes for hours fun and lotsa laughter.
    It seems to come and go though… I hardly understand a word of what todays teenagers are saying and for all practical purposes, they speak English.


  11. banquo: It’s those 10 seconds that make it all worthwhile.

    del: Then there is no hope at all.

    sophie: I’ve always struggled with new languages. Boggle? Makes sense, I suppose.

    chitty: Teenagers put the ‘gap’ in ‘generation gap’.


  12. There is a fine line between advanced and idiot savant.
    Sounds like a great kid.
    *Am I freakish idiot? because you live in Cape Town, and, it being the village it is, I wonder if the person I have just been rude to in the shop was you. If it was, I am sorry.


  13. Having been surrounded by at least one toddler or another perhaps my whole life, I’ve become quite adept at this mysterious language of the sprogs. (Sprogs? Is that some nickname for “kids” in South Africa?)

    It’s not so much what they say, it’s the intent of what they are saying. Like buddess’ example above about the pizza in the oven. You just have to be clued into what kinds of things your kid is into, and why, and at what times. Hink? Well, if it’s been about an hour since you gave her a something to drink, then that’s probably it.

    At least, that’s my take. I don’t have any kids of my own.


  14. scott: Wasn’t me, or my evil twin (or am I the evil twin? I can never remember. What was I talking about?). Oh yes, it wasn’t me.

    paul: They certainly are.

    andrea: Ain’t never gonna happen, Andrea.

    bryan: ‘Sprog’ is more of a British term for kids, but I like it, so I use it. Toddler charades (sounds like…?) is loads of fun.


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