I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

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I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:05 pm

My name is Tom. I'm Polish. Although my command of English is not bad, I'm sometimes at a loss for words. I've decided to talk English all the time to my daughter, who is now 11 months old. I hope I will succeed, but time will tell if I'm right or not. I've got a few questions in connection with it:
-What do you call a small baby? (I mean dimunitive forms,as many as possible; before being a toddler, while being a toddler etc. We've got plenty of them in Polish).
-What do you say to a baby when you want to feed them (when you want them to open their mouth, when giving some food etc.)?
-How to warn a baby not to touch things we do not want them to touch? (No, no? Don't? I mean short forms, preferebly colloquial)
-What site conserning colloquial English (but not slang!) could you recommend me?
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:20 pm

Hi, Tom. I'll try to get you started with some answers. Maybe some other regulars on this site can help you with more.

The only "diminutive" form for a baby that I can think of right now is "little tyke." I'm not sure if that's what you had in mind or not.

Whenever you're dealing with a baby, short, repetitive words work best; as the baby grows, you can move on to longer words. For feeding time, you might try "din-din" (which can later be turned into "dinner") and "yum-yum," which MIGHT convince the baby to try the strained spinach (once). *G*

As far as warning a baby away from dangerous things, try telling the baby why she shouldn't touch rather than just using "no" for everything. (Believe me, "no" is one of the first words a kid learns, and they use it almost constantly. All parents rue the day their little tykes learn that word!) For example, if the baby reaches for the stove, tell her "Hot!" Or if she tries to put some filthy object in her mouth, try "Dirty!" (You might want to add a "no" the first few times until she gets the idea.)

I'm sure there are lots of other creative suggestions out there. Maybe another wiz here even knows a good colloquial website. Good luck, Tom.
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:34 pm

It's not exactly diminutives for baby, but lots of parents use endearments, such as "sweetie" and "precious" to address their children. They also use pet names that may or may not be based on the child's name (my niece got called "Boo" a lot because her birthday is on Halloween). Which reminds me that "baboo" is a diminutive for "baby" that I have heard used. I'll look for a colloquialism web page this weekend because I'd be interested in it as well.

Lois Martin, Birmingham, Alabama, April 5, 2002
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:49 pm

Baby talk is insulting, even to babies. Short sentences are good with little ones, but this "din din" stuff should be left for the cat. "Here comes the airplane" is always good for getting an open mouth, as the spoon swoops through the air. I suggest you might investigate sign language to teach your daughter, so she can make her needs and wants known until she can talk. There are universal signs. You could say the English and do the signing at the same time. Her amazing brain can handle it . Research is showing babies and toddlers can learn all kind of things, it is the older folks that have to work harder! Good luck.
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:03 pm

Catherine, I still refer to DINNER as DIN-DIN. I'm pretty sure that babies are more intuitive and more in tune to one's tone than the actual phrasing.
Tom, I think it is nice to try to teach language from a young age, but if your native language is Polish, I think it is important to use your language with your child as well. Your deepest thoughts and feelings are more than likely POLISH and speaking ONLY in English to your Bundle of Joy might not allow the opportunity for these heart-to-heart connections.
Some other terms for children are:
bundle of joy
half-pint
small fry
little tyke
Good luck with your LITTLE ONE Tom.

Reply from christine Gilpatrick (Cornwall - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:17 pm

Dear Christine
As it comes to speaking both Polish and English to my little one I beg to differ. I used to study English philology and I have been teaching English to Poles for over 10 years (though at present I'm only 28 myself). When I was a student I was very interested in getting to know as many good teaching methods as possible. As a result, I talked to numerous lecturers, some of them were eminent linguists known all over the world. Each time I brought up the familiar subject of teaching babies, I heard a similar answer: 'You cannot teach a baby or a child a foreign language unless you speak only one language. When the baby finds out your little weakness of resorting to your native language whenever you are at a loss for words, he/she is going to break the rule and speak the language he/she is exposed to more frequently and in which he/she feels more confident.'

I'm not afraid of 'these heart-to-heart connections' as I believe it is mothers who are more emotional and effusive.

As far as thinking in a particular language is concerned, I wouldn't be so sure as to whether my thoughts and feelings are more than likely Polish, as you put it. I am exposed to written and spoken English for 10-12 hours a day. Having no opportunity to speak English at least for a few hours a day, I feel like a fish out of water. I'm just in my element when teaching or studying it, always bearing in mind that one lives and learns.

I hope you won't take it amiss. I just wanted to make everything clear.

Thank you and all the others very much for your contribution. However, I'm still looking for a site with colloqialisms and I hope you could help me in some way.

Tom (Bartoszyce-POLAND)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:32 pm

Tom, I don’t get the reasoning behind your teaching your child English before Polish. Are you about to emigrate to an English speaking country? Otherwise, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want Polish as their first language.

Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, Colorado – U.S.A.)
4/6/02

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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:46 pm

The "eminent linguists " were wrong. Read Chomsky (on linguistics).
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:01 pm

the line between slang and colloquial is extremely vague.
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:15 pm

Firstly, Tom, I applaud your decision to bring your child up to speak more than one language. Like my brothers, I was born and raised in Britain to a Danish mother and a Polish father, and at home my mother spoke only Danish to us until I was about ten years old (unfortunately my father was not motivated equally strongly to teach us Polish).

The result is that not only were we able to communicate effectively with our Danish relatives, but our previous experience of a language other than English made learning new languages easy when they were introduced into the classroom at age 11. I am in absolutely no doubt that a child brought up bilingually has a significant advantage in this respect, and is probably less liable to be culturally conservative (in other words, may be more willing to try new foods, socialise etc).

I suspect you may be correct to believe that you cannot successfully teach a baby or a child a foreign language unless you speak it to them exclusively. I can point to some evidence for this belief in the shape of one of my nieces (soon five years old), who is being brought up to speak Danish by my brother, who is the only Danish speaker in her home.

That's the theory, anyway. In practice, my niece understands Danish but will not speak it, despite the fact that my mother too (the child's grandmother) will often try to encourage her when they are together. My brother's command of Danish is not equally strong in all areas, and possibly partly because of this, he has not been communicating with her solely in Danish, especially since she started going to kindergarten. It does not help that there are no Danish-speaking families in his social circle. This means that my niece only ever hears the language spoken by a couple of close relatives. In that regard it is a different situation than when a foreign family settles in a community where there are many other families that share the same cultural background and are able to mutually reinforce both the cultural and linguistic aspects of their identity.

For this reason, in your case it might be advisable to expose your daughter to other people speaking English besides yourself (native speakers if possible). This will help everyone to feel that the situation is less artificial, especially since you too are a non-native speaker of English. Plus, of course, it will help to smooth off any remaining rough edges in your own spoken command of the language.

Concerning your original point: English makes considerably less use of diminutives and pet names than does Polish, which is probably why there have been relatively few suggestions made here thus far. Many of those which have been made are more likely to be said about a small child than to it. (For instance, in England "little tyke" is a derogatory term which it would be inappropriate to address directly to a child unless the intention was to brutalise it.)
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:29 pm

Tom: You raise some interesting questions. I am not sure what you are really looking for, but I was wondering if you are not searching for idioms. As one of the below sites describes it: " Idiom is yesterday's slang and slang is tomorrow's idiom. In other words, idiom is slang that has, through use and over time, become acceptable to use in informal language.

Here are some sites that offer a variety of idiomatic expressions:http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/6720/

http://www.geocities.com/FashionAvenue/ ... dioms.html
http://webnz.com/checkers/idiom2.html
What is the difference between idiom and slang?
http://www.comenius.com/idioms/index.tpl
http://vlc.polyu.edu.hk/idioms/

Erik and I share a somewhat similar experience in that I grew up in a Norwegian family. At the age of 8 we moved to Norway for a half year and I was plunked down in a Norwegian third grade and had to learn Norwegian or sink! When we got back to the US, I couldn't speak English for some time. Thereafter, there was very little spoken except for sayings and use of Norwegian nouns and basic verbs in the family and the reading of letters from all the relatives in Norway. I retained quite a bit of it, but had no spelling or writing skills in Norwegian and so I took it at the University of Washington -- grammar and Literature. I still lack technical language, but can get along very well in social situations. Having a second language greatly facilitates learning a third and a fourth, etc.Idiom is the real language of the people and it is one of the hardest to master as it is frequently based upon cultural experience that goes deeper than the mere words. I don't know where Erik came up with the idea that using the expression "tyke" was a prelude to brutalizing a child, but the English are different from you and me, so who knows really what cultural values they ascribe to there. *G*

Leif of Eatonville, WA, USA

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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:44 pm

Leif's contribution has reminded me of some other aspects of the efforts my brothers and I made when getting to grips with Danish which might be relevant to you and your daughter.

Although as children my brothers and I spoke Danish constantly with our mother, there were no significant occasions for writing it. That skill was something I taught myself in my mid-20s through writing lengthy letters to my relatives and making extensive use of dictionaries to confirm that I was constructing my sentences correctly using the right words. Though laborious, my efforts enabled me to achieve a substantial level of competence in written Danish; it is not perfect, but my errors are usually minor. As with Leif, making sense of (or writing) complicated technical jargon can still pose difficulties, but I think that half a year to a year spent working in Denmark would make a significant difference to my ability in this area (equally, had we lived there for any length of time as children, the benefits to me and my brothers would have been enormous).

As it was, it would be fair to say that without early exposure to the Danish children's books that our relatives in Denmark sent us, my later efforts to write the language would have been ten times harder; in fact, I doubt that I would have made the effort. In the event, my mother spent a lot of time reading them with us when we were young, taking us to the point where we could read independently. (Many of those books still evoke much nostalgia when I come across them.)

But it would also be true to say that the levels of competence in Danish which my brothers and I possess are correlated with our relative ages. As the eldest, I had the lengthiest concentrated exposure to Danish; my youngest brother, who had the least exposure, struggles to read and write the language, and his spoken command is also less than mine or that of our middle brother. As an adult I have further increased my familiarity with Danish through books, newspapers and arguing with my cousins.

Anyway, when my mother was reading with us, she was not only teaching us the language of Denmark, she was helping us to absorb some of its culture. This was probably easier to achieve with Danish (a language spoken by just 5.5 million people in a culturally and geographically small area) than with English (a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people in diverse settings all over the world). But I think that this deep-rooted cultural component of our language-learning -- which was extended for us by our regular contact with our family in Denmark -- is one of the things that makes me feel that I possess Danish in a rather different way than if I had learned it as an adult.

Finally, you must understand that Leif is a sui generis. (I don't know what cultural value - if any - that bestows on him!) ;-)
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:58 pm

Ken. There's nothing to understand. I'm not going to emigrate to any English speaking country. In fact, I have never been to one. Both I and my wife are Polish. English is not and has no chances of being my daughter's first language as I am the only person at home who is able to speak it. Veronica (in Polish we spell Weronika, though both names are pronounced similarly) is exposed to Polish virtually everywhere and by everyone. So again, her chances of acquiring English as a language No.1 are less than slim and the experiment is obviously doomed to failure in this respect. Yet, what I would like to do is to save her trouble and perspiration connected with arduous studying English as a foreign language, which I experience in my work with students every day. With several exceptions, their command of English is superficial and short-lived. So, as you see, my theory is as irrefutable as it is simple.

On the other hand, I would like to emphasise that I am not a pioneer in this matter. Some acquintances of mine tried it with their child and were successful. Yet, they were consistent all the time. One parent-Polish and the other-English. Their daughter became proficient as a teenager while her peers were working hard on: I am, you are etc.

Now I would like to refer to the anonymous wiz who mentioned Chomsky. Admittedly, his contribution to linguistics is undisputed. However, I wouldn't contrast one Chomsky who, incidentally, was a mere theoretician with a number of linguists who are not laymen themselves. As to Chomsky, he is a very controversial figure, even among scholars. When I wanted to base my English pronunciation thesis on Chomsky, my professor advised me against him, arguing that he was frowned upon among linguists.

Nevertheless, I would like to thank you all for your assistance, especially Erik, whose surname sounds familiar to me due to his Polish origin, and Leif for their support and encouragement. When I was 16 I was able to study English even 13 hours a day, and not by fits and starts (but day by day). It was not a flash in the pan. So nothing can put me off also this time! Believe me.

Tom (Bartoszyce-POLAND)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:13 pm

Erik! I've been insulted all this time and didn't know it.... My parents have referred to us as little tykes since I can remember. There is also a toy company that bears the same name.
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:27 pm

I think its nice to call a baby by his or her name rather than the usual diminutives. If Weronika is too long then why not Nicky or Vikki? For ages my son referred to his sister as Bicky, that is until he could form the V sound. She called him Ebwarb. B seems to come easier that D.
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