Baby language is quite hard to understand, as babies often speak words that may sound related to what adults speak, but different in pronunciation. Therefore, it is important to listen to babies carefully to grasp what they intend to say. In my study of baby dialect, I chose to observe Fahad, a three-year-old Arabic baby from Saudi Arabia. He lives with his mother, a stay at home wife aged 30 years, and his father, a 35-year-old teacher who teaches sign language to the deaf. Baby Fahad also has two younger sisters aged two years and seven months old. Fahad is a very active boy, which enables him to grasp a lot in terms of speech, and do so quickly. The analysis of this paper discusses Fahad’s grasp of Arabic dialect due to the influence of the Arabic language speakers around him. The paper also analyzes the conditions favoring his fast learning and the challenges he may encounter.
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Development of the dialect
The baby’s parents both speak Arabic as their first language, which leaves him with only one language to learn. Hence, he has to pick up Arabic dialect. The boy continues to learn the Arabic language from his mother, who is always home with him. Fahad also picks up some words from the father when the dad returns from work. However, he cannot learn much adult Arabic from the younger sisters because they are still too young to have proper knowledge of the language. The result is that the Fahad’s dialect is affected by his younger sisters’ simple and toddler vocabulary, which slows down his learning of the Arabic language. Therefore, the environment favors his learning because his mother is always around to teach him. The baby also learns by imitation and picks up words from conversations between his parents. Since his father is a sign language teacher, he might not be much of an oral communicator, which affects the three-year-old’s acquisition of vocabulary.
|Baby Talk||Arabic Adult||English Adult|
11. SH=S 12. LA=WA 13. KH=H
Shortening of words
2. LEVES=Z (TELEVESYON TO TEZYON)
5. KATSHAB TO SHBB
4. KA from KAKAW
6. L from LAMBH
9. I from IPAD
14. TH from THALAJA
I came up with the conclusion that Fahad picked up the Arabic dialect as most of his words relate closely to the Arabic adult speech. Fahad’s surroundings and relations influenced his choice of dialect. The mother, father and the environment around him are Arabic, and their environment is dominated by Arab locals. Hence, Fahad’s dialect is heavily affected by the Arabic language. The baby’s mother played a big role in his choice of dialect as she is always in the house. The baby tries to say whatever the mother says as he feels she is always right. Therefore, it is important that the mother speaks proper Arabic for Fahad to pick up the right words. According to Fahad, his mother is always right. Therefore, what she speaks must always be right. The case shows that babies learn by imitation.
I observed that this baby could not pronounce some syllables like “sh” and “sr” correctly. He also showed difficulty in pronouncing “l” in some instances. There are syllables that seemed easier for the baby to pronounce. Therefore, he replaced the hard ones with the easy ones. An example is his replacement of “k” with “t”. The baby does not struggle to pronounce the hard words because he would rather use what is easier for him to pronounce. Other words were quite long for the baby to pronounce. Therefore, Fahad used short-form of the words. An example is the shortening of televesyon to tezyon. The baby also completely omits some syllables or letters from words. Examples include his omission of “l” in lambh, “ka” in kakaw and katshab. “th” in thalaja and “i” in iPad.
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The main challenge in Fahad’s learning of the adult vocabulary is the presence of his younger siblings. Fahad tends to use baby talk with them as because he loves to play with them. However, this prevents him from improving his dialect quickly because they are also in the process of learning. The boy’s younger sisters are not in a position to correct him or improve his dialect because they use baby talk. Since the younger siblings are always around him, it is hard for him to improve his dialect at the required pace. The boy may end up using baby talk longer than expected.
Another reason Fahad uses baby talk a lot is that his parents are not strict. The parents neither pay close attention to correct his mistakes nor do they try to teach him how to pronounce some words. The mother and father leave it up to him to pick words from their conversations. Sometimes they speak to him in his childish dialect while playing with him. I would recommend that the parents take him to school because Fahad has attained an age where he can start attending a daycare or kindergarten. He can improve his vocabulary and speech because the teachers correct the mistakes, making it easier for him to learn. There are also kids of similar age, making the surrounding free of baby talk. The lessons at the daycare will make it faster for Fahad to learn the Arabic language properly and do away with baby talk. Therefore, the daycare will greatly improve his dialect.
I would also recommend that Fahad’s parents get stricter in correcting his speech. Whenever he makes a mistake in his pronunciation, his parents should put more effort to teach him the correct pronunciation. The parents should make him repeat the words that trouble him often until he can pronounce it clearly because repetition is also a way of learning. The parents should also refrain from using baby language while playing with him and his siblings. Fahad’s dialect is bound to improve if all the recommended measures are implemented.