Talking To Everyone and No One

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that a mere four or five months ago, Cordelia had only a tiny handful of words, and we weren’t even sure if she knew they were words, or if she just liked the sounds she was making. I would repeat things to her over and over, trying to coax new words from her lips, looking into her eyes for a hint of recognition at the sound of words like kitty, mommy, sleep, or eat.

Now, just over three weeks before her second birthday, I can’t shut the kid up. She talks nonstop, all the time.

Oh sure, as in months past, she often rambles on incoherently with the same inflection and tone as real words, but lacking any further resemblance. But now, more words and sentences are making their way into her brain, and she rehearses them frequently in front of us.

The amusing part of all of this is that she doesn’t require a conversation partner. She gladly carries on both sides of the conversation, unaware that half of what she is saying should be said by someone else.

Knock, knock!
Who der?

Yes, she’s learning both sides of a knock knock joke. She never waits for me to answer “Who’s there?” Soon my little version of Rain Man will certainly be quoting both sides of Who’s On First.

But it doesn’t stop with jokes. Cordy will also give running commentary about objects she sees:

Oh! Wook!
What izzt?
Itza ball!
Where ball?
Der itz is!
Oh! Wook!

The above one-person conversation is carried out in roughly 20 seconds, and repeated over and over again, with no pause to allow you to join in on the conversation.

With a string of phrases like that, I can only assume that either she is simply practicing the phrases she knows, or she has no short-term memory like Dory, and the ball is new to her every 10 seconds. I seriously hope my first assumption is the correct one.

But reaching this point in language development is exciting. She’s now expressing her thoughts with words, instead of the tried-and-true scream. Instead of me playing 20 questions – “What do you want? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Do you need Blue? Do you need a diaper change? Do you want to watch TV? Do you want to run outside?” – she’s now giving her demands clearly and as precise as possible. While she is still ambiguous much of the time, the connection has been made. We are learning her language as much as she is learning ours.

I can also see the frustration on her face now, as she tries to express herself with the limited amount of words she knows. This is the age where receptive language is growing more rapidly than expressive language, meaning they understand many words, but can only express a limited number of them. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to understand so much and yet only have a small set of words to draw from to express yourself. Add in an underdeveloped emotional control, and it suddenly makes sense why tantrums are so common at this age.

While she is developing language in her own way, it is also interesting to see the habits she is picking up from Aaron and me. When she is exasperated with us, she will often exclaim, “Okay! Okay!” just like we exclaim when she’s screaming and we’re trying to hurry to fix whatever is causing the crisis. Because of this, Okay! has also become a stand-in for the word yes.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Cordy’s verbal skills increase in this next year. I remember when a friend’s son turned three, and I remember how well he could communicate at that birthday party, when only a year before that he wasn’t saying anything more than sound effects. The next year will continue the already rapid transition from being a baby who relied on me for everything to being a little girl who will determine her own preferences and do things for herself. By next year, she’ll hopefully let me into her head, telling me stories only her imagination could dream up and sharing every thought she can with me.

I only hope I can keep up with her.

Hello? Would ya quit yakking and give me a push?

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  1. Don’t you just love it when they start talking like that? My 2 year old doesn’t shut up and he now talks in 5-6 word sentences that are just adorable plus it helps me to understand what he wants more often.

    Your daughter is soo cute in that pic!

  2. Oh, the cuteness!

    So helpful of her to have your side of the conversation, too. Clever girl. :)

  3. I love the talking.

    Q told me the other day that she liked my hair.


  4. My little one has had a language explosion in the last month or so. It’s so funny the things that they’ll say now. It is a lot of fun to watch as they learn. It is one of my favorite things about being a mom.

  5. Christina, thank you. CJ’s language isn’t progressing anywhere near as fast as Tacy’s did, and I have to admit that it frustrates me. Not because I’m worried about her development, but because the Twenty Questions game makes me crazy. Not to mention the ensuing tantrums.

  6. Thanks for the Cordy pictures!

    I was wondering when the language explosion happens. I think we are nearly 7 months behind you. Aveline can say 10-20 words right now, but obviously gets frustrated and just yells jibberish at me. She has something very important to say, I can hear the urgency in her tone!

    As much as I want her to be able to talk, I realize in a few years, I will probably wish she was just jabbering again.

  7. I was just thinking today how much I love this milestone, the new talking. It is so fun to watch. Or, uh, hear.

  8. I love that one way conversation!! Sooo cute!!

  9. I LOVE this age. SO much fun. We are in the repeating EVERYTHING stage right now.
    Also… Stella heard her (very gassy) father flatulate rather loudly this morning and started pointing at him and yelling “POOP!”.
    If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck……

  10. Ooh, the mimicking. I’m afraid of what my daughter is going to pick up from me and my husband when she starts to talk. It could be really embarrassing. I’d take Okay! Okay! anytime. That is too cute!

  11. Language development was my very, very favourite stage.

    She is hopelessly cute … and funny … and smart … oooooh your in for some trouble :)

  12. I love the description of the one sided conversations! Mine does that too. I actually “caught” her in the dining room the other day offering her doll some juice. LOL.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yawp, Paul sure went from nothing to verbal diarrhea.

    A friend once pointed out that we spend the first two years begging them to walk and talk, and the next sixteen begging them to sit down and shut up.

  14. That’s right! Cordy and Dawson are soooo close in age! He turns two on Sept 16 and lately he’s been using sentences and I just laugh and smile and get all giddy about it!

    Yesterday, Doug was playing this handheld Yahtzee game and the noise was loud. Dawson looked at him and said, “Dad-deeee! Put it way!”

    I had to manuall close my jaw in shock!

    We need to live closer so our smart kids can hang out together!

  15. Damselfly says:

    How cute! As someone interested in linguistics, I love this age. It’s so interesting how children learn to put words together before they know all the “rules.”

  16. daundelyon says:

    Hehehe, my little…well, youngest brother (he’s taller than me now, darn it!) had some speech issues when he was a toddler. Out of sheer frustration, he’d often resort to sound effects. Dinosaur was “Grrrr, grrrr!” while train was “Tugga tugga whoo whoo!”
    This is the same kid who blew 5 AP tests clean out of the water. *sigh*

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