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A Baby's-Eye-View On Why Words Are Weird

Adults have a funny relationship with words from what I can see. Or hear.

01/12/2016 3:28 PM AEDT | Updated 01/12/2016 3:28 PM AEDT
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"I am going to miss being non-verbal in a few months."

Words, words, words... It'll be a while before I can use them myself -- I'm only five months old -- but I am trying my best to figure out what on earth they mean so I can hit the ground running when it's my turn. It's not been easy, though. Adults have a funny relationship with words from what I can see. Or hear.

Sorry, to be clear: this is Daughter here. Since Mummy is busy, and when she isn't busy most of the posts she writes are about my brother, I thought I'd steal a few minutes.

'Minutes', eh -- what are those, exactly? My parents often glance at their phones or watches when they say this word. This suggests its meaning is official but it seems to vary a lot. For example, when my older brother wants something he is first asked to say it again politely, then he is told to wait 'just a minute.'

After that, that minute usually seems to pass quite quickly before he gets what he wants. When I want something, and try to be vocal about it, I am told the same thing or that other thing 'I'm just coming.' Want to know what this all means when it's my turn? 'Wait a lot longer.' Or actually, 'get better at hissy fits, like your brother.' Just saying.

This is not the only time words can mean different things. Let me explain. We hardly ever go to restaurants but, when we do, we often sit at a table marked 'reserved'.

Now, I've heard Mummy and Daddy describe people with this word. Our behaviour is not it. In fact, the reason we leave is usually because my brother and/or I have started squawking because we're a bit bored. Also he has usually started sliding off his chair all the time like it's covered in lard. This seems to make my parents drink more wine, faster, and look a bit scared at each other and say 'we really need to go.' Maybe the sign was telling us how to behave and we have disobeyed it so we are getting kicked out. Who knows...

It all gets even more baffling. Now, where one word can mean two things I also see that two words can mean the same thing. For instance, I have heard adults talk about a man they know who is a bit poorer and louder than they are. Some of them call him 'salt-of-the-earth' and some of them call him 'scum-of-the-earth' and it just depends who is talking about him and on what day. It is the same man, though, because they also all call him a normal name or something sometimes.

But then men's names are weird, too, because they are also used for my Daddy's tools. Stanley the knife is his favourite, but there is also a Phillip and an Alan in there somewhere. These sound like quite boring names to me because my friends' Grandads are called these names. Daddy must love these names, though, because he loves his tools. This makes me think that tools must also be good things and yet I've heard lots of bad things about them. Mummy and Daddy sometimes use this word to talk about other drivers, each other and also my brother when they are mad. I don't get it at all.

Still, there are some words put before names that have helped me understand a lot of things. I'm pretty sure that 'Mr' and 'Mrs' and 'Sir' and 'Madam' mean that someone is a man or a lady. In fact I know this because Mummy was on the phone to the credit card company once and got cross when the man called her 'Sir' because of her deep voice. 'That's not the right title!' she said with anger.

These 'titles' can bring about strong feelings, I think. Actually the one that does this the most is one used when I hear a conversation between Mummy and her friends or Mummy and Grandma. Usually even saying it means they make a face or whisper a bit and it's when they say 'That' as the title of someone they don't like. That Paula. That Sarah Smith. Also famous people: That Jordan.

I think I am just getting how these words work but I have to say that life is simpler without them. I am going to miss being non-verbal in a few months.

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