Monday, November 24, 2008

Parlez-vous Petit?

I was expecting le Petit's first word to be a very, very big deal.

I kept waiting for the moment he would look at us, open his mouth, and gesticulating meaningfully at something, utter an identifiable grouping of syllables. Instead, his babbling slowly settled into patterns that seemed to mean something some of the time but most of the time were just, well, sounds.

Progress was slow and I began to fret. Yet through the babbling le Petit was busy acquiring his two languages, and behind the random "cocos" and "da da das" there was hard work going on. And so it was that sometime between August and October "da da da" became "dada" and was firmly enough assigned to my husband that even I was able to admit it:

Le Petit had a first word! In English! Alas, I don't have a date to record in the baby book.

Once he had one word down there was no stopping him. He now can say baby and "lolo" (milk), bain (bath) and bras (arm). Naturally, his first sentence was in Franglish. Recently, as we looked through a picture book before bed, he turned to a page with a baby in a bathtub and said "Baby bain!"

But his biggest linguistic accomplishment came on his sixteen-month birthday. We were at the airport in Nice preparing to give back the rental car as le Petit waited patiently in his car seat. Once the agent finished inspecting the car, she waved at him and said "au revoir." Le Petit waved back and repeated quite clearly "aurvoi!"

My heart swelled with pride, but I fear that before long he'll be pronouncing that French "r" better than I can.


Mom in France said...

It's weird isn't it? Boo speaks a mixture of English and French - basically whichever is easiest. I find that the liquid words of french tend to be easier than the hard, gutteral English (hence: chat vs. cat). My favorite is "All gone!" Which is often confused with "Encore!"

caramama said...

Awww. Way to go, Le Petit! By next year, he will be speaking French better than I ever could. I'm jealous!