Archive for the 'linguistics' Category

Super-Quick Update

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I’ve been spending more time updating the photo gallery (now caught up through late July!) and less time on the blog.  In part, because there’s not much new to report, but at the same time there lots of new stuff to report.


He’s up the same old tricks, but doing more of them.  He’s actively saying more words by a factor of two or three.  He understands more speech by at least that much.  He’s more active, and in more creative ways.  He’s eating more foods, and is more capable of eating on his own.

The list goes on and on.  And of course, he’s still interested in cameras, perhaps even more than ever.


In sad news, Max bid farewell to Kendra, his nanny of a year.


She got a second part-time job in the field she’s been working toward for a long time, so this is a happy time for her.

In good news, however, the border collie seems to be working out well as Kendra’s replacement.  She’s much cheaper, although she  seems to be getting fatter while Max is getting thinner.


An investigation is ongoing.

“Just How Much Does He Understand, Anyway?”

Friday, September 25th, 2009


I’ve written much about Max’s verbal expression, but not as much about his verbal comprehension.

In a nutshell, he understands almost everything.

If you say, “Wave your arms!” he’ll wave his arms.  If I say, “Gimmie some bonk,” he’ll (gently) (usually) bang his forehead against mine.  When Amalia says, “What do the crows say?” he’ll do his crow impression.  When you say, “Max, explain the dark energy paradox,” he’ll coo gently and start scribbling out cosmological diagrams and equations with his big blue marker (although this isn’t as big of a deal as it sounds, as his grasp of quantum physics is still pretty rudimentary).

It’s startling how much he actually can comprehend.  I find that when I want to say something he won’t understand, I’ll resort to the benthic, sesquipedalian depths of my active vocabulary.  Instead of, “Is he eating anything yet?” I’ll ask, “Has he yet partook in any comestibles?”  It leaves some of our conversations around here sounding like they’re coming from a Victorian romance novel, and as far as I know, he can still understand everything we say, and the joke’s on us.


One other thing:  as he gets bigger and more active, he’s also building muscle.  He’s harder to control, and when he fights back, boy, he really means it.


Month 16: Piggies, Zebras and Camels, oh my!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Max is sixteen months old today.  He doesn’t seem to notice.

Unrelated, we had something special planned today.  Amalia had the day off.  I had finished a work-project last night at 10pm that I’d been toiling on, off an on in violent spurts, since March.  The weather was gorgeous.  So I played hooky from work in the morning and the lot of us went to the Puyallup fair.


Max got to see lots of different kinds of animals, although the highlight of the day was our first destination, Pig Palace.


Max was overwhelmed with breastfeeding flashbacks.  He was so bedazzled, that when given the opportunity to pet a piglet, he elected instead to pick its nose.


There was also an Animals of the World exhibit, where Max got to see lots of the critters he’s been learning about in his board books.  Like zebras, oxen, and camels.


All in all, it was a fun day.  He saw the cool critters, ate lots of junk food, was amazed by the awesome rides, and pointed at lots of overweight people.

In linguistics news, Max is now trying to say “moon”.  It’s one of his favorite objects, he always points at it when he sees it in the sky, or in the illustrations in his books.  He’s still not saying it very well, usually saying “boo”, or sometimes as close as “boon”, but he’s working at it.

Nanny Found!

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Well, actually … after much toil, we weren’t able to find a suitable nanny, so we decided to go with the border collie.


She’s not so good at changing diapers, but what can you expect for 8 Snausages/hr.?

In linguists news, Max is now has added a couple more words to his active vocabulary.  These words are “baby”, “hi”, and “bye”.  He’s also getting the first few syllables of “communism”, but it may take a while before he perfects that one.

Apparently, there was a time when you could just set Max on the ground and he would stay there.  Like, he wouldn’t move around all the time, bouncing off of fixed objects and literally vibrating with energy.  There are even photos on the photo gallery that prove it.  I, however, have no memory of this.


It’s a bit like the way Stephen King cannot remember composing his book “Cujo”, but without the cocaine.

The most entertaining aspect of his mobility, curiosity, and imitation of us so-called adults is that he’ll pick up objects and leave them in random places.  Like putting the mobile phone in the laundry hamper.  Or Amalia’s glasses in the old car seat.  Or the DVD remote control in the recycle bin.  Hey, he sees us put stuff there all the time, so it must be an okay thing to do.

Now whenever we see him play with something, we keep it strongly in mind that unless we pay some attention to where he puts it, we may never see it again.


“Honey, have you seen my heart medication?”

“Yeah, Max was playing with it earlier this morning.  Why, do you need it?”

The Labyrinthine Path From Babybabble to Coherent Speech

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Q:  What does the snack food “Pirate’s Booty” and soap bubbles have in common?


A:  They are among Max’s first verbal words.

On Friday night, Amalia and I left Max with a babysitter, and not only did he not cry at our absence, but when we got back he was speaking a new word.


Or maybe it’s “bible”.  We’re not sure.  He says it when we start blowing bubbles and he gets all excited, so that’s a clue.

Max has been communicating quite effectively via sign language for a while, but hasn’t really picked up any clear verbal speech.  His grunts can speak volumes, but words have been a little bit elusive.

Sometimes he’s been saying “ma-ma-ma-ma-ma”, or “da-da-da-da”, and he’s even occasionally got the context correct.  But other times he’ll say one of these to the cat, or the garbage can, or the spatula.  So it’s never been really clear that he’s been trying to say words.

Then came, “Uh oh.”

Repeated by Kendra whenever she dropped everything, it soon became Max’s catch phrase.  Drop the fake chicken nugget onto the floor.  “Uh oh.”  Knock over the magnetic tower I built for him to knock over.  “Uh oh.”  Run out of raspberries.  “Uh oh.”  Watch the vortex of Drosophila swirl above our compost bucket.  “Uh oh.”

We’re not sure when he started saying “Booty”, and we assume that it pertains to the Pirate’s Booty snack food.  That is, he says it whenever he wants to eat it.  I suppose he could be referring to something else and is still working on context issues, but the evidence is highly in his favor.  It didn’t come immediately.  He sounded like Jabba the Hut for a while (”Booda-booda!”), but now he’s got it down.


And as mentioned already, just by leaving him alone with Rana for a couple of hours, he picks up the world “bubble”.

(”Bubble booty?”  I’d rather not think about it.)

But even as Max is only starting to get his English skills down, he’s been fluently speaking with crows for about a month now.  So English is only his second language.