Wednesday, August 26, 2009

toddleronia travel tips #1

An occasional series to aid the stranded non-native traveler in Toddleronia.

On Speaking Toddlerese...

The typical Toddler appears to not only be hesitant to explain their native phrases, but actually forgets the meanings and intended nuances of their native tongue once they embrace the rigors of English (though this is found to be true for other languages as well).

To the best of our ability, we have used a limited phonetic spelling for most of these terms in order to better recreate these phrases with accuracy. Please keep in mind that Toddlerese is very much a living language - one that changes daily. The Native Toddler is nimble in his/her use of the language and readily changes denotation, pronunciation, and connotation without notice to non-native speakers.

boo = "Baaa" from a sheep. Also intended for paci and stuffed animal "Hurp" which appears to be a stuffed dusky blue monster with yellow eyes.

bo = Blanket, blankie, The Woobee.

da-dee = Daddy. The superhuman male equivalent to the "mom-mom" (see below). Some distinctions between the two: while the "mom-mom" is required near by to complete certain impossible tasks, she does so without the fawning adoration of the Toddler. Her duties are clear, her work is never done, and the Toddler carries on. The "da-dee", on the other hand, is the magic kiss-everything-better-by-his-very presence persona, and is especially useful for heinous owie-kissing. The Traveler should be aware that explaining that the "da-dee" is at work does not appease the Native Toddler when he or she is requesting an audience with said "da-dee".

Diss = This. See "sum"; as it appears to be used interchangeably.

Eww = Ear.

hoT = (emphasis on T) Hot. We have witnessed the usage of this term change, in that it originally was used to indicate a stove specifically. In recent trips to Toddleronia, we have seen the Native Toddlers use this term to indicate other HOT items such as chicken nuggets and the exhaust fan from a laptop.

LALALA = The Sesame Street character Elmo. Be aware that requests from the Toddler for this "LALALA" (specifically those who are saying LALALA while also carrying a small red Elmo doll) indicate a viewing of the television show, "Sesame Street". The Traveler should stay in close contact even after he or she has fulfilled the Toddler's request, since at any moment the Toddler may decide that he or she HATES Maria with a fiery passion or that The Count is the most boring boring to ever bore; when this happens, the Toddler will react with swift discrimination and begin madly pointing and screaming at the television, thus requiring the Traveler to either fast forward through the offensive material or start a different Sesame Street program without the offending characters.

mom-mom = Mama. While the meaning of this term should be fairly clear, we have observed the Native Toddler use this term to also indicate Extreme Displeasure, Loneliness, and Pain. It is our theory that the Toddler believes that the "mom-mom" can materialize out of thin air, whenever required, to solve a problem--- if you can envision a cross between the fabled Fairy Godmother (complete with wispy sings) and the all powerful Wizard (complete with magic wand), you will come very close to understanding the Toddleronia concept of the "mom-mom". In most cases, the Toddler is requesting that the "mom-mom" complete if not impossible tasks then very near improbable tasks - on a daily basis. Feats such as serving perfectly heated (but not too hot) chicken nuggets the second the Toddler requests them; unpopping a balloon; unripping a book; finding a very-much-lost stuffed animal; etc.

raaawr = Lion, tiger, bear, anything remotely ferocious including buffalo.

rowrow = This term refers to the song, "Row Row Row Your Boat", but is used to convey that the traveler should SING. SING RIGHT NOW, regardless of location (grocery store, church, the doctor's office). The Traveler will enjoy the fantastic variation of possibilities that the Native Toddler may be requesting all the while continuing to demand ROWROW!! ROWROW!! (complete with furrowed brow) The Traveler would be best served to start singing Row Row Row Your Boat and then continue on through Itsy Bitsy Spider, Popcorn Popping, and Rubbery Ducky to find which song the Toddler is actually requesting.

shooo = Shoes. Usually accompanied by a single shoe the Toddler is carrying in his or her Kung Fu Death Grip. Upon mention of "shooo", it is customary for the Traveler to help the Toddler don his or her shoes, though the Traveler should be wary that the Native Toddler likes to hold his or her shoes as much as wear them. And many times the Native Toddler does not have a clear notion that in order to wear the shoes, he or she must let go of them.

'side = Literal meaning: outside; intended connotation is used to convey any and all outside activity, i.e. going in the car, traveling to the store, walking around the backyard, walking down to the mailbox. The Traveler should be wary of the many uses for this word, since the mere mention of it can send the Toddler into fits of glee that just as quickly become the screams of distress when the Toddler discovers that his or her assumption of "side" has been mistaken, i.e. the Traveler takes the Toddler down to the mailbox when really the Toddler thought that they were going to the store. (see also: "shooo" since these can be used interchangeably with very similar results.)

sum = Some. Does not actually indicate portion size, but rather to express the Toddler's desire for whatever the Traveler may be holding at the moment. Foodstuffs, specifically---though we have observed the use of this term for straight pins, wallets, cellular telephones, a large bag of Weed and Feed, as well as many other non-food items.

tose = Intended meaning is toast, though we have found that this term just as easily applies to all bread-like substances, i.e. bread, crackers, flat kitchen sponges. Keep in mind that this "tose" is very similar to "toesss" (see below), which does create a great deal of confusion when communicating with the Native Toddler.

toesss = Toes.*
* Cultural note from the authors: beware that the Native Toddler, when enticed to discuss "toesss" will attempt to bite the visitor's toes with rigorous jaw workings. It is useless to remind the Toddler that such a thing is not done in the general world, since in Toddleronia it is considered High Entertainment, regardless of the discomfort for the visitor.

tow = Two. Used in conjunction with "one" (English translation) when the Traveler refers to "one", the native, well-rested Toddler will count "TOW". When the Traveler then says "three", the native, well-rested Toddler will count "TOW"--- so on and so forth through the numerical chain. It should be noted that the distinction is made for the "well-rested Toddler" since other, less well-rested Toddlers will respond to the traveler's "one", "three", "fourteen", etc. with a SCOWL followed in quick succession by a scream that will shake the ear drums of any persons within a mile radius.

UH UH UH. = A strange and ambiguous term that continues to baffle us - although extensive research has been done to find a specific meaning for this phrase, it is not forthcoming. With that said, we have some theories regarding the use of this term, in that it indicates the desire for an unreachable object, activity, or otherwise Unattainable Thing. Travelers should be wary when the Toddler resorts to the use of the UH UH UH in that it indicates Extreme Displeasure and is possible that the Toddler might decide to strike out at the Traveler if his or her need is not met without further delay.

The authors would like to remind fellow travelers that this is, by no means, a complete list and only reflects the author's travels in a very limited portion of Toddleronia. As we progress further into the deeper reaches of the territory, more language helps and short cuts will reveal themselves, we are confident. Until then, we wish you safe travels.


M said...

What are our chances of getting a photo essay to explain Toddleronia gestures?

The Boy does this tap dance stepping thing accompanied by maniacal laughter and I have NO idea what it means.

Any suggestions, Dr. Whimsy?

Erin P said...

This is great! I don't know how you had time to write it while taking care of toddler needs, but I love it! Staves off mush-brain-syndrome from lack of adult conversations, too, I bet.

Amanda said...

Ah. You're getting it. I so wish I had written this stuff down when my little snots were learning to talk!