One utterance with so many different meanings. No, não (no in Portuguese), no (a preposition in Portuguese meaning ‘in’), know, Noel (my brother’s name). I realise that in the adult world some of these have slightly different pronunciations, but it the baby world of T, they are all the same.
I am never quite sure which one he wants to say, but he says them a lot. I am fairy comfortable with ‘no’ as he will usually shake his head at the same time just to emphasise the fact. ‘Noel’ is used for any van or lorry, especially if it is white. (When we were in the UK last month my brother would often take our son to sit in the driving seat of his white van. It became something of an obsession and so every time he sees a white van he shouts out ‘Noel’.)
I am fairly sure T doesn’t use the word ‘know’ yet, but when he uses the schwa (as I mentioned in a prevous post) before before the word it can sound like he is saying ‘I know’. Likewise, I don’t think he is aware of the use of a preposition in Portuguese.
He seems to like the word so much that he will just repeat it to himself over and over again, for minutes on end. I love it when he does something like this as he seems to get so much enjoyment out of playing with the sounds and just experiencein them on his tongue.
We are getting more and more chatter by the day now. Most of it is random, meaningless (at least to us it is) sounds. One thing we have noticed, though, is the use of ‘a’ before words. Instead of just saying ‘mamãe’ for ‘mommy’ he seems to often say ‘a mamãe’. He will often also say ‘a daddy’ and ‘a ball’. The same is true for his made up word for car ‘a buda’.
The pronunciation of this sound is rather like the schwa and so can sometimes seem to disappear if you aren’t listening for it.
There has been a bit of discussion about what this sound represents. One theory is that it is an article: both English and Portuguese use ‘a’ as an article, in English it is the indefinite article and in Portuguese it is a definite article for feminine words. Personally I don’t think he would have noticed this usage yet, especially as in both loamguages the ‘a’ is so weak that I don’t think he would have noticed it being used as an article.
Another theory is that he is using it as a prefix. Quite what the prefix might be for, though, is anybody’s guess.
The finaly theory we have come up with, and my personal favourite, is that he likes to have some sort of vowel sound to start a word or utterance. It might be that he finds it strange to start with a consonant and so use the ‘a’ or schwa sound before using a consonant.
The thing is, we are never going to know why he is really using this sound, but it makes for a good argument.