Monday, 13 August 2012


Ever since Abigail was tiny, I have been so looking forward to her talking.  When she was a newborn, I remember sitting looking at her and wondering what her voice would be like and what her first word would be.  I listened to other children make adorable mistakes and mispronunciations and couldn't wait to be recording Abigail's own 'language' and assimilating it into our family's own language.

As it turns out, I have had very few opportunities to do that.  Abigail talked comparatively late, and when she did her pronunciation was very precise.  She's a perfectionist, and if you make the mistake of laughing when she says something, she never says it again; so mistakes in single words are quelled very quickly and never really become part of her speech.  However, entire phrases do sometimes make it past this internal censor of hers, mainly because we know what she is trying to say so well that we automatically react as if she had actually said it, and so it never gets corrected.  The result of this is that for anyone else to look after Abigail, they really need a dictionary of her more common phrases and their meanings.  So I thought I'd provide a list of the top ten.

1) I'm sorry
This never actually means that she is sorry.  She's picked it up from me apologising to her when I'm brushing tangles out of her hair or scrubbing something sticky from her face, so she now says it in similar situations and it really means "You're hurting me".  This gives the unfortunate impression to the outsider that she is horribly punished and made to say sorry, since whenever you cause any slight discomfort, she gives a wail of "I'm sorryyyyyyyy!" that's enough to break your heart.
She never says this when she has actually caused pain to somebody else.  Instead, she says what we would say to her in that situation.  So, the other day she walked up to me, scratched my leg quite hard and then said, "NEVER scratch Daddy!"

2) Is that a yum yog-ot?
It may sound like a question, but it's not.  She's telling you that her yoghurt is yummy.  The correct response is "I'm glad you're enjoying it".

3) What a man doing?
This one actually is a question, as far as I can tell, but it may not refer to a man.  Abigail knows the words 'man', 'girl', 'boy' and 'lady', but uses them all interchangeably to mean 'human being'.

4) Hurta my finger
Very rarely means that she has hurt her finger.  Usually means that her finger is slightly sticky and she would like a wipe.

5) That a funny noises
Any noises are funny noises.  Jeremy filling his nappy, a plane going by, her own piercing shriek, a buzzing fly: all are greeted with "That a funny noises".  And the beginnings of a thunderstorm last week: "Is Daddy making funny noises?"

6) I didit a burp, did you?
Again, it's not a question.  It's developed from her favourite "I didit a burp" to which I always used to respond "Oh, you did a burp, did you?" and she's just collected the end of my response and added it to her own assertion.  Trying to answer the question can lead to an embarrassing discussion of one's own burping habits.  Denying that you heard her burp (she's never really made a noise at all) is also dangerous, as it leads to a loud succession of attempts at fake burps, some successful, others that sound like a donkey in labour.  This is entirely her father's fault.

7) Wassamatter with a ...?
Goodness only knows what she thinks this means.  She must hear me saying it when Jeremy cries.  Anyone who doesn't know us really well must think that Abigail lives in a world where everything has gone slightly wrong and is in constant need of comfort.  It looks sweet when she's applying it to one of her dolls, but I found her in the kitchen the other day cradling a wellington boot: "Oh, a boot.  Wassamatter with a boot?  Boot fall over.  Oh.  Poor boot."

8) One, four, six
"Look, there are some numbers written here".  Or, in any situation where anyone else would have counted to three, eg: "One, four, six, RUN!"

9) That a A for Abigay-wuh
"Look, there is writing here".  Occasionally she happens to be pointing, by fluke, somewhere near a letter A, and then onlookers are terribly impressed.

10) Jemmie up on a pompit
Our only completely made-up word!  The pompit, is Abigail's word for the sling wrap that I wear Jeremy in.  I have no idea why.  It's apparently transferable to any carrier, though, since when I last put her in a mei tai she exclaimed "Abi up on a pompit!"  ('On' is her only preposition, by the way.  "We go on a car?"  "Want go on the garden!"  "Juice on a cup".)

As far as creating a family vocabulary goes, that last one is the winner.  I quite often catch myself saying something like, "Jeremy looks tired. Shall I put him in his chair, or up on a pompit?"  So we have at last reached that time about which I have been daydreaming for the last two and a half years, and I love it.  I wonder what gems Jeremy will be providing us with in another couple of years?


Rachael said...

Yay, I love posts like this! Hilarious, especially the burping bit. Looking forward to seeing her and all of you again!

tim said...

It is only in the last 5 to 10 years that older members of my family have stopped using words and phrases like these- long after the person who invented them have grown up

Nice to hear other peoples response is so similar

Pigwotflies said...

Yay! You just made me laugh so hard I couldn't eat breakfast. So sweet!

AlexC said...


"Wassamatter with a boot? Boot fall over. Oh. Poor boot."

I definitely recognise this. Bethany loves to play with cars/vehicles, as we may have noted... including doing "girly"/dolly-style play with them, such as feeding breakfast to the yellow car, changing the nappy of the purple car, pushing the yellow car in the pushchair, etc.

This, along with her habit of repeating accounts of incidents from weeks or months ago, leads to moments when more or less apropos of nothing she'll go "Baba waaah. Ret car waaah.", meaning "Poor Bethany, poor red car"... from one occasion ages ago when she trod on the red car, and as well as being hurt herself, decided that this must have hurt the red car.