Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Our Budding Bilingual Baby Says Her First Word

Sunday was an exciting day ... it marked seven months since Poppette was born. I have to pinch myself sometimes ... I can't believe she has already been with us this long. Practically every day sees her learn a new skill... rolling, picking up with her pincer grip (most notably grabbing my eyelashes one day between her finger and thumb as I leaned over her crib!) and then on Sunday came her very first word.


Hmmm. Well this is an interesting one. As I understand it, from a linguistic point of view this is one of the easier sounds to master and very often a baby's first sound. I do wonder though whether this holds true world over or just with Anglophone children. If anyone knows, please do drop me a line.

Now Poppette definately hears the words Papa and Daddy more than Maman and Mummy simply because whilst Papa is away on business mid-week I talk about him lots and we skype every night... and, as I switch on the computer to Skype, I always say ''Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy''...... I'm not sure why, since the rest of the time I definately refer to him as Papa.

Anyhow... this is not a competition, right? I am more intruiged by the linguistics behind this chosen word/ sound and whether Poppette's next one will be Francophone in nature - bearing in mind she definately hears more French than English right now.

If anyone has any information or experience on what sounds Francophone children tend to commence their speech with (or indeed any other nationality), I would be really really interested to hear from you.


  1. Good question! I have wondered the same thing. (But I never followed up on it, so hopefully one of your readers can enlighten us.)

    Hey, what impresses me is the fact that she clearly said a meaningful word at seven months! Youpie, Poppette!

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  3. Well, I have been chatting with a couple of French friends today and they suggested that Papa tends to be the first word said by French children as (like Dada) it is one of the easier sounds to make.

    My mum made me laugh when I told her the great news as she joked that "it's typical... the women do all the work and the men get all the credit" ...

    In reality though, I don't think for one minute that, at this age, an infant links the word to its father. I'm sure it's more a case of it being a) a sound that it hears often and b) a sound that it is able to recreate.

    Re the fact that Poppette has said this word/ made this sound at 7 months - on Sunday, when she first said it, I really wondered if it was by accident and didn't really dare to hope that she would do it again - but since then she has been saying it all the time. Perhaps she is going to be a little chatter box just like her Maman :-)

  4. Anonymous19 May, 2011

    How exciting! It is such a thrill, isn't it? And at the same time, it is almost unfair that Dada comes before Mama :) But in our case, our son also heard Dada a lot more than Mama.
    Our son said Dada around 9 months. He said a couple of other words then, too.... and then he stopped! He's now 18 months and recently started saying "Ada" and "Ama". Last week he also said "dog" but he hasn't done it much since that first day.
    As far as language goes, I say Mama & Daddy/Dada in both English and German, so our names aren't really an indication of anything. "Dog" is obviously a different story.
    I find it so interesting with all of these milestones that there never seems to be an actual moment/day when they begin. Crawling, walking, talking... it seems to be more of a transition than a switch going on!
    I hope your little chatterbox continues to add to her vocabulary!

  5. It's crazy how very similar we continue to be! Check out this post that I wrote on the same topic, coming from the same place of worry, when Kaya was 13 months old...:
    I also looked back in Kaya's baby book and noticed that, at 7 months, she was saying "daidaidai" (her first unofficial word-sound) (and mamamamama), and didn't use the word "Mama" in context until she was in her 9th month.
    I'll be curious to hear what you think of the post I wrote above...there's another one that follows it the next day which is on the same topic, different letters...
    I also think it's a good point that we talk about them a lot...though I think many of us also talk about ourselves in the 3rd person for a long time, too. From the reading I've done, D's come very early, as to A's, which is why, in many world languages, Dada and Mama are what they are--labels for the parents who think the baby is referring to them. Your point "In reality though, I don't think for one minute that, at this age, an infant links the word to its father. I'm sure it's more a case of it being a) a sound that it hears often and b) a sound that it is able to recreate" is a good one, from what I understand of the subject...