The Latin word infans, from which “infant" comes, means "a person who is unable to speak"
But all mothers know that communication begins long before actual speech. Babies “talk" to
parents with their eyes, their expressions and their whole bodies, and parents respond to them
in the same language.
Human beings are different from other animals in our highly developed use of language and
understanding. Ababy can hear conversations even while she is in her mother's womb. And
then from the minute she is born she begins to feel the rhythms of her native language and
gradually learns to recognize meaning. In South Africa, *the Bantu tribe celebrates the first
time a child answers to her name witha special dinner.
The best way to encourage your baby's language is to begin a two*way conversation. Mothers
all over the world talk to their babies in a special language, known as "(ア)motherese" or “baby
talk". Without learning how, we tend to use the simplest words, changing our grammar to
make sentences shorter. Mothers talk of themselves in the third person, repeat things, and
speak to their infants in a sing-song pitch. By looking at our babies while we are talking to
them, we also teach them the facial expressions that come with speech.
Babies start babbling from around three months, repeating easy sounds like “da", “ta", "ma",
“ba" and “pa”. All around the world these first basic sounds are the roots of common names for
other family members, most importantly “mother" and “father". For example, baba means
*the Gusii tribe of Kenya, while baban is “father" for *the Sambarivo people of
Madagascar. The English word “daddy" is tata in Greek, tatasin Sanskrit and papa in French.
Considering the amount of time she spends with her baby in the first months, a mother might
expect her baby to say her name first. But this doesn't usually happen. Studies have shown
that (イ)babies try to name their fathers before their mothers. Perhaps mothers want to hear
their baby's first word as “daddy", in order to make a father feel more important and to add
more meaning to his fatherhood. Or perhaps father, a familiar but often a little more distant
person, is considered worth saying first.
In Europe, the origins of the everyday words for “mother" are closely related to breastfeeding.
Mom, Mam, Mummy -
all these words come fronm the ancient Greek mamman, which means