Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Amazing Adventures of "E"

"E" is definitely my most unusual child. Not that we aren't buddies. We are. (We sure should be after all the time I put in this year trying to "bond" with him). He's just a strange little kid in a lot of ways.

When E was three and four, for example, and should have been thrilled at finally learning how to communicate in English - like all other kids his age - he began switching mid-sentence from English into a bizarro nonsense language he seemed to be inventing all on his own. It sounded as though someone had recorded people in a pentecostal church speaking in tongues, and then sped it up on a tape recording - like Alvin and the Chipmunks speaking Romanian or something. So, conversations with E would be like this:

Me: "Hey E - would you like to go out to the park with us to play?"

E: "Yeah, we can play. We can play. Oooooh rabbalo dissamaw chapajoe dabby would be fun".

Me: "Were you just trying to say something?"

E: "I am saying we could bring chickasaw gobaa dibby dibby dibby lackaroe chickasaw".

Me: "E - will you speak English? What are you trying to say?"

E: "We could bring the ball".

Me: "Sure we can. Will you go put your shoes on?"

E: "Yeah. I like these shoes. When I run, they laloioiwe rickie chackamam."

Me to one of his older brothers: "What in the world is up with this kid?"

Older brother: "I don't know. We've all been trying to figure him out, but no one has any ideas...".

Well, my three oldest sons and I (E is the fourth oldest) finally named his weird language "Chickasaw", since that particular set of syllables seemed to pop out fairly regularly. (Funnily enough, I discovered later there is a Native tribe in Oklahoma called the Chickasaw). And we found the only way we could get E to stop responding to normal English questions in hyper-speed Chickasaw, was to actually ask him to speak in Chickasaw, after which, out of some combination of cussedness and shyness, he would stop the hyper-speed gibberish and always answer back in English. Unfortunately, there was no way that other people - like grocery store checkout clerks or nurses - could have any idea that they were talking to a kid who would alternately sound normal, and then like a Romanian chipmunk on cocaine, or how to get him to speak in English, leading to conversations like these:

Clerk: "WELL! What a cute little boy we have here! Would you like a sticker?"

E: "Uh huh - I have a sticker with glkjs oiugoiu berlozzokkie vhurl wer lrkla loiputs galaboo galaboo chickasaw on it".

Clerk (to me): "Uh - what did he say?"

Me: "No clue. He's, uh, he's kind of a different child-"

E: "Guess what? I can tralagkee gargar bingalwor off the slide."

Me: "That's enough, E. What do you say to this nice lady?"

E: "Thank you. And chickasaw chickasaw chickasaw".

The end finally came when we jumped into the van for a long family vacation down to California. Throughout the entire trip, the older boys and I kept up the requests for E to speak in Chickasaw. As predicted, he refused and only responded in perfectly good English. This went on, week after week, until by the end of the trip Chickasaw had joined Pictish, Thracian, and Ligurian as an extinct language - the only difference being that Chickasaw wasn't actually any sort of real language at all, only, seemingly, spontaneous rapid-fire bursts of sound.

At least...I think it wasn't a real language.

More later.

Tal

9 comments:

Janet said...

Oh, FSM, my 4-year old does the same thing!

How many kids do you have, anyway?

Guinevere said...

My 5 yr old still does the same thing sometimes, but all of my kids are a bit strange, so we've never really thought much about it. The same kid has a bizarre habit of smelling womens clothing. Not what women are wearing at the time, but running from clothing rack to clothing rack in stores, deeply inhaling the scent of the soft fabrics, or grabbing my dirty shirts out of the laundry basket, and falling asleep with it draped over his face. It gets a bit creepy at times.

Melissah said...

My children all are fluent in non-sense. Their dad can speak it, I just try to repeat what I hear, but I'm corrected and told that I am not as good as daddy at it.

Interestingly enough, indeed, my best friend in ollege was half-blooded chickasaw. I usedto collct all their stories, like the one about how the Choctaws and chickasaw's seperated, good tale! Then I met another dude who worked as a federal representative for the Choctaw nation, so I toldhim about my repetitive trips to the Pink Palace and Oklahoma (awesome lightening btw)and my chickasaw friend who movedto Austin to be famous or something.

Banna said...

I'm pretty sure that it's not PC to use the name 'Chickasaw' to describe what you are referring to as a "wierd language". The tribal council will hear about this. They will not be impressed.

Tal said...

I sure hope that's a joke...

Melissah said...

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/01/bird_brains.php
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97620&page=1


I am not sure if this will explain it, but I was researhing how the
brain functions to assign meaning to words, and found alot of info on
BIrd Brains. It sounds like a pt down, but I tought it might give you
a little appreciation for cild babbling, it is supposedly a sign of
intellegence.

A team of neuroscientists at MIT have made tremendous progress in understanding how birds learn to sing: a part of the brain called the basal ganglia is primarily responsible for controlling the learning of movement and the production of speech. This circuitry is also present in humans, and it is the same way that a baby's random babbling eventually becomes the proficient speech of adults. It is hoped that this research can provide further insights into Parkinson's Disease, an inherited genetic condition that causes rapid breakdown of motor control and speech production. The full research study is available as a downloadable PDF."(see below)

http://biology.plosjournals.org.nyud.net:8090/archive/1545-7885/3/5/pdf/10.1371_journal.pbio.0030153-p-L.pdf

Enjoy!

Brian said...

Chickasaws show up throughout Faulkner's work, having lived with the Choctaws and Creeks in the Southeast before being moved to Indian territory.

Su said...

My youngest daughter does the same thing (except that her language seems to revolve around words that have their roots in "poo poo"). While I'm not entirely sure of the scientific or developmental reasons for why she does it, I'm completely sure that she enjoys confounding adults. And, as she innately "knows" (a lot like Tom Cruise) we are easily confounded.

CodyAnne. said...

I have been depressed all night but reading this has given me such a great laugh. Sounds like you're a great Dad with awesome kids!!