From See to Say
Toddlers remind us that what we say is a direct expression of what we see and feel. They first speak to acknowledge what they see. They proudly point to an object and speak its name: mama, dada, dog, moon. They also speak to express their needs and wants: toy, milk, mama, and so on.
Take the word mama. With just a small shift in inflection, “mama” can go from an acknowledgment to a full-blown expression of desire: MAH-MAH! Speaking with such strong desire gets attention and evokes swift action. In this case, on hearing the clarion call, the mother acts swiftly to embrace her child.
Now imagine a toddler sees a stranger appear. She feels frightened and cries out: MAH-MAH! Fear creates an unmistakable quality in the spoken word. ...