Toddler Tales: Babe of few wordsDiana learns the word "dog;" Bolsh is thrilled, clearly.

The inevitable has happened. Diana has learned the word for her favourite being in the world (after Daddy): "Dog!"

After weeks of moo-ing, baa-ing and clucking (no woof-ing though), she suddenly started pointing at her beloved Bolshy and saying "Dog! Dog!"

I'd like to take credit for this amazing new development; in order to further fuel Diana's handbag obsession in a semi-educational way I got her a veterinary bag kit with a stuffed dog that barks and sniffles (his nose turns red when he has a cold). This dog - named Dr. Doggie since he comes with a stethoscope D loves to wear - is actually what got her saying "dog" in the first place, when I gave it to her for Christmas.



D hasn't been that interested in picking up words until now - she's mastered the basics like "mama," "dada," "no" and "mine," but she's mostly been content just pointing at objects and barking out a monosyllabic sound to indicate that she needs to be in possession of that item, now. And since she's such a masterful walker who has managed to infiltrate every crevice and cabinet in our home, I guess she figured she had enough to occupy/endanger her on a daily basis without bothering with speech.

But in the past couple of weeks, I've noticed she's become much chattier (probably the result of her ultra-social week spent with various family members), and will happily have conversations with herself, asking questions, nodding in agreement and changing her intonation. None of the sentences uttered appear to be in comprehensible English, yet, but there is no doubt D is starting to speak.

She's also beginning to imitate speech patterns and syllable usage. So if I say "Bolsh" in a sharp, brisk voice, she'll respond "Bol" in the same tone; if I say "Boll-shhy" with two syllables, slowing down the word, she'll say it back in the same sing-song way. It's incredibly exciting.

Until I remember that most of the stuff that comes out of my mouth isn't proper English (I'm famous for abbreviating every word and making lots of them up), my grammar is horrific (the word "like" is superfluously added into every sentence I utter a minimum of two times) and I have so many nicknames for people, toys, Bolsh, my husband and Diana that even I get muddled half the time.

So there's lots of un-navigated territory ahead which involves me relearning the English language to ensure my daughter isn't a social pariah. But until then, I'm enjoying the "dog" phase. So is D.

In fact, she's so enamoured of Bolshy these days that her latest tribute to him is to clamber up on the couch next to him when he's snoozing, lie down on her back and pretend to be asleep next to him.