Monday, July 30, 2007


It occurs to me that I am very sloppy about reproducing the toddler accent. You might not understand that Z. pronounces "yellow" "lello," and "milk" "mieuwk." Or that her "r"'s exactly split the difference between "r"'s and "w"'s. So I am going to attempt to be a little more faithful, at least this one time.

Z.: Will you swing me?

S.: No, my toe is really hurting, I don't want to swing you.

Z.: Why is youah toe heuhting?

S.: Well, I banged my toe and it just hurts.

Z.: You need to get anudder toe dat wo-uks betteuh.

* * * * *

S.: Do you know what a comedian is?

Z.: Yes!

S.: Oh, you do?

Z.: Yes, I do!

S.: Can you tell me?

Z.: No!

S.: Why not?

Z.: Because I'm eating.

* * * * *

S.: Do you want me to tell you what a comedian is?

Z.: (peers forward expectantly)

S.: A comedian is someone who makes people laugh.

Z.: (beams like someone has just given her a present) Laugh!

S.: Why?

Z.: Because youah my muddeuh!


Magpie said...


Magpie said...

Oh - that wasn't meant to be a comment on your spelling "lello" - more a toddler solidarity - since mine says lello/lellow too. But can say lots of other "Y" words just fine.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Teh cuteness!

Did you get another toe dat woeuked betteuh?

S. said...

Don't worry, Magpie, I didn't take it that way! When transcribing an oral language, variations must be expected!

Phantom, I'm woeuking on it...

Furrow said...

I've never studied toddler-ese, but even if I did, I imagine it would be much like my study of Spanish. It's much easier to learn when immersed in a culture that speaks it. I'm hoping to pick it up when I have my own toddler, because it's now just jibberish to me when I hear it out in the world. But again, like Spanish, it's easier to decipher when written.

The Goldfish said...

Apparently, the noise I got stuck on was "keh" which I pronounced "teh". So it was tushion (cushion), take (cake), titchen (kitchen) and so on. I don't know how late it was I was stuck on this, but my sister (two years senior) recalls her frustrated attempts to try to make me speak properly (she grew up to be a school teacher).

Then one day, I watched a cartoon on television (called Mr Benn, you probably never saw that) and suddenly I had perfect pronunciation. Thus proving that TV isn't all bad for kids.

My favourite thing about toddlerese is the new constructions. I remember a friend's daughter complaining that a little boy had "fierced me off my chair!" After this, I decided that fierce should be a verb.

ppb said...

Teh cuteness, teh cuteness!

S. said...

ppb, thanks!

Furrow, as Goldfish suggests, toddler-ese is composed of many micro-dialects: an individual kid is as likely to say "yayo" as "lello." So I'm not sure that advance study would pay off.

Goldfish, I love "titchen" and want to find a use for it! Do you think there could be a sentence in which a titchen fierced something? Or was fierced?

(un)relaxeddad said...

Utterly, well, cute! No other word will do. All I had this tea-time was a ruthless 3yo's interrogation about why wee-wee comes out of a willy and poo-poo out of...Well, you get the idea. And "why? why?" in answer to each response as i dug myself in deeper and deeper...

jo(e) said...

Oh, I think we deserve a podcast. I love cute toddler voices!

(Teenagers just aren't as cute.)

S. said...

(un)relaxeddad--Z. *just* hit the why's this week. It's astonishing how quickly they tire you out!

Jo(e), the last time you challenged me that way I figured out the scanner for the yaks! ... I don't have an iPod, but A. and I have been talking about recording Z. for awhile ... I look into it.

Lo said...

You don't need an ipod to get audio of Z. on the web. I imagine there are several ways, but if your camera has video capabilities, you can take short videos that also have audio. (My friend has a camera that also records *only* audio, but I don't think ours does that.)

Also, your computer has a built-in mic, though I am not sure what program you would use to record.