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I Speak Baby…do you?

by Deborah Cruz

I used to take great pride in the fact that I could speak four languages. *Yes,I’ll pause a minute while you gasp in awe* I have loved languages since I was a small child. I grew up in a household that spoke two and as I grew, I had a voracious appetite not only for the written language but for the spoken one as well. As soon as I could take a language, I did. I took Spanish, which was the other language spoken in my home. This was, obviously, very easy for me to pick up. For those who are interested to learn the Spanish language as well, check out lases de español hechas a tu medida.

After a few years of Spanish, I added French to the mix. The grades were so good in Spanish that a teacher volunteered to tutor me French. I was allowed to split the period. By the time I graduated from High School, I was fluent in English, Spanish and French. This all fit very nicely into my master plan. You know, the one where I was going to move to New York, work for a big firm as an International lawyer and travel the world. Once I began university, again I added another language—Italian. I had to. How was I supposed to understand the sweet nothings my hot Italian husband ( that I would surely pick up on one of my summers in Italy) was whispering into my ear as we lingered in bed under the Tuscan sun. I loved my languages. But then life happened, as it tends to do. Here I am, many years later, A Work at Home Mommy and my passport has not been used since high school. The languages I learned may as well be Sanskrit, no more than I use them. Sure, I can watch most foreign films without the subtitles but without practice ( other than Dora cartoon explanations) I’d say “fluent” would be pushing the term a bit. I just don’t think I have the Mommy brain space available to speak more than 4 languages, and so I think I have maxed out my quota.

But, there is a bright side. After all, I am Ms. Glass half full (Most days). I have acquired two new languages in the last 5 years that I believe, in my circles, is much more valuable than Spanish, French, Italian or even English. I am absolutely fluent in baby and gibberish. You heard me right. NOW, you are envious right? Yes, both my girls tried to talk way early and both were very frustrated when I couldn’t understand them so I decided I had to learn. Good thing because BOTH still talk baby talk. Don’t get me wrong, they have an extensive and impressive vocabulary but they still have that baby speech.You know “Sure” is “Shua”, Gabs has issues with “S” consonant blends so “Spoon” is “poon”, etc. I paid attention to everything they said, what they were doing, what they were looking at, where we were at and then the context clues ( NEVER thought I’d need that skill in real life) provided me with what exactly in the hell they were saying. Now. I have a very working knowledge of Bella and Gabisms. Thank God. I think all those years of listening to my father intermingle his Spanish and English and trying to decipher what he was saying have played a huge part in this capability…super power if you will. (No, I don’t think calling the ability to understand baby talk and gibberish a super power is an overstatement. I think I am spot on with this one.) See this is a usable skill. I should offer a class to all Mommies. This could be my ticket to fame and fortune.  Who’s in? Classes registering now. Forget about “my baby can read”. Who cares if your baby can read. The question is can you understand the words that are coming out of his/her mouth?

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Bruna 2011/01/14 - 3:53 pm

Gibberish and Baby talk are mighty fine languages, if I don’t say so myself. Still using it now with the 2 and a half year old. Some days, neither I or Daddy fully get what she’s sayin until we switch language modes. It’s a definite must-know-language if you’re a Mommy!

I love it that you have Bella and Gabisms.

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/14 - 4:01 pm


AMen to that. I would not have been able to survive with out speaking Gibberish and baby talk fluently. They have proved mush more useful than the other 4 put together:)LOL
Happy Friday,My friend!

tara 2011/01/14 - 4:11 pm

I speak gibberish as well. I have to, my 4 year old had profound hearing loss until he was 18 months or so and is just starting to catch up in the language department. YAY for gibberish!

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/14 - 7:40 pm

Exactly, yey for gibberish. Can you imagine the frustration level if you didn’t…on both your parts? I like being able to translate because that way they don;t feel like th ey are doing something wrong.

kabahaldi 2011/01/14 - 6:43 pm

I defenitely agree with you, baby-talk and gibberish are a must, it helps so much to boost up your bubba’s language development if you understand what he’s trying to tell you. You just have to translate his words in proper english and repeat them. I do this with swiss-german (my mother tongue) and englisch and my little one has a very good vocabulary in both languages. So I guess now I can add 4 languages to my CV 😉

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/14 - 7:47 pm

That is a great idea.I do the same. Once I figure out what they are saying I repeat it back to them, said as it is supposed to be.That way they hear their error without being humiliated.MY 3 yo makes me laugh though.I have watched her speak to others who don’t understand her and before I can tell them what she said, she has learned to show them or explain it.For example, when she says “Spoon” its “Poon” if they don;t understand she will say ” the thing me eat with.” then they understand. I think that’s pretty smart:)

JustMom420zaks 2011/01/14 - 4:35 pm

I find I often have to translate what my kids are saying to my husband. I’ve decided to add interpreter to my job description.

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/14 - 7:43 pm

I agree.My poor husband only sees the girls on the weekends so he REALLY has issues with some of the words they say. I’ve taught him to tell the girls he can’t hear so good, can they please repeat.That way they think he has a hearing problem vs. can;t understand them.LOL

Krysta MacGray 2011/01/16 - 7:00 pm

I am fluent in baby talk too! That’s it though. Languages and I don’t get along.

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/17 - 1:51 pm

LOL!”That’s it” , more like that’s the most important language us MOmmies can ever know! It saves us from so much frustration and crying ( Our own). Happy Mothering!

parentingadabsurdum 2011/01/17 - 5:13 am

I did gasp in awe!! You’re a superstar. And I do speak toddler – much better than my husband. But my five-year old is the real translator in the house – he ALWAYS knows what his brother is saying, so we often ask him!

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/17 - 1:53 pm

Isn’t that hilarious how the older sibling can translate with such ease? I noticed Bella can do the exact same thing with Gabs. There have been times when we have had NO idea what the hell they were saying but Bella,is like ” oh she said….” I love it!

Alicia @MommyDelicious 2011/01/17 - 7:59 am

Okay… those pictures are WAY too cute. LOL. My son says “fleep” for “sleep” so yea… I speak baby. LOL. But wow, how impressive it is that you (used to) speak four languages.

Truthful Mommy 2011/01/17 - 1:56 pm

It used to be impressive:) LOL Now I think most people that see me on a daily basis to find it surprising that I can functionally speak 1 language. I was quite proud of myself for being able to converse in four languages…in my previous life. I like to refer to it as Debi BK, you know “BEfore Kids”

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