Blah Blah Blah
I was just sitting down to write this post when I saw Josie had commented on the last one. Her comment is directly relevant to this post, so I'll quote part of it here. Regarding toddlers beginning to talk, she wrote:
...it is so awesome when they begin repeating what you say and actually knowing what it means! And then they get that "oh look at me, I'm so smart" look on their face!
Austen did indeed get that "oh, look at me, I'm so smart!" look on his face this morning, when he realized he could TELL US WHAT HE WANTED and that WE COULD UNDERSTAND HIM. The floodgates opened while he was waiting for Al to use the bathroom this morning (it's usually Al who gets up with Austen and feeds him breakfast). He turned his head in my direction (though I don't think he looked at me directly, maybe in case he got his first attempt at using REAL WORDS wrong) and said "go...down...stairs." I couldn't believe my ears, and I shouted to Al, "he just said 'GO DOWNSTAIRS!!'"
Apparently encouraged by our enthusiasm, Austen didn't stop there. When I got up about an hour later and joined Al and Austen in the kitchen, he wowed me with the following short sentences: "no, this one" (referring to a box of veggie sausages), "big one" (referring to the one sausage we hadn't broken into little pieces), "you eat that one" (referring to that same sausage), "I do" (said several times, when—as is usual these days—he wanted to do something for himself instead of having help), "pick up" (when he wanted me to pick him up, obviously), and something that sounded like "I want another piece [of watermelon]."
Of course, I'm not sure anyone other than I, Al, or Hannah could have understood him; it's not like all of his words were clear as a bell. His intent, however, was. It was so clear that he was trying out sounds that he'd heard before—sounds that he'd guessed had certain meanings—and that each time we seemed to understand him, he was emboldened to try out some more sounds. It reminded me of someone trying to learn a foreign language: I'm very tentative in Spanish, for example, even though I know quite a bit, and it takes some positive reinforcement in the form of a native speaker understanding me before I'll feel confident enough to utter more than the most rudimentary sentences.
Speaking of foreign languages, if I ask Austen where his youngmal and kudu are, he'll first turn his palms to the sky as if to say, "how should I know?", but then he'll look around until he finds his socks and shoes. When Al asks him "subop juseyo?" he'll nod vigorously; he knows he's being asked if he wants some watermelon. He's never used Korean words, however, even when he got on his talking tear this morning. I woudn't be surprised if he used kudu in a sentence in the near future, but I think he's still only guessing that subop means watermelon. I suspect he'll wait until he's sure what the words mean before he tries them out. (It's also possible that since we only sprinkle Korean words into our English sentences from time to time, he doesn't hear them in context enough to infer their meanings with any degree of certainty—or that he's unsure why we sometimes say shoes and sometimes kudu.)
Anyway, Austen was obviously very proud of himself this morning and was all, "look at me! I can talk!" He became very hyper when he realized he was being understood, and he started backing up (also a new thing; he's never taken more than a step or two backwards, and this morning he was walking several paces in reverse) and then sprinting forward in a mad dash, giggling like a maniac. He did realize later that there was a limit to what we could understand; he's apparently not getting all of the sounds right, or maybe the sounds don't mean what he thinks they mean. He didn't seem discouraged, however, so I fully expect to hear more talking tomorrow. I can't wait to hear what he says next.