30 March 2012

PramGate! A Question of Language

My suburb is a friendly suburb that likes to think of itself as a village. The sort of suburb where you get to know people, exchange the time of day or a smile and acknowledgement as you pass each other in the shopping plaza or supermarkets.

Every so often at the local bus stop, I see a young mum with her little one tucked up in his pushchair. We exchange comments about the weather, remark on how long we have been waiting and finish with a “have a nice day” as we board the bus.

The little one has always been very quiet but lately has been a bit more vocal. It’s not exactly a cry, and not really a gurgle. Sometimes it sounds more like “words” that sound, (and I mean no disrespect to the little one) like a Martian in a low budget 1950s sci-fi movie. “Nah, nah nanna ooga” or words or gurgles to that effect.

I hadn’t thought too much about it until this afternoon. I had just bought a very nice, High Tin Vienna from my local bakery and sat down in the plaza to enjoy a bit of fresh air before heading back to check what political scandals had broken in the half hour I had been away from the PC.
It was then I heard that “gurgle.” I turned around expecting to see the young mum and the little gurgler.

Wrong!

It was neither of them!

I was surprised as the “words” pitch, tone and accentuation – even the volume, was exactly the same - but a different mum and a different child.

I thought about this and came to a startling conclusion. Babies have their own language! So when they lay there looking up at the ceiling, I reckon they must be thinking about their surroundings and thinking those thoughts in their own language.

If that is the case, imagine how they must feel when an adult comes along and says “Coochie coochie coo.” I can imagine a child lying there and thinking, “Excuse me dear lady, but I am quite literate – just in a different language.”

But then I thought about it a bit more. I reckon the same thing happens with animals.
Whenever I have seen two dogs barking at each other, I had always assumed they were just going – woof woof. But I now realize they are in fact sprouting the doggie translation of, “I’ll get you Jimmy…Oh yeah, you and who’s army…my owner can beat your owner”.

Of course they wouldn’t say “army” as animals have no need for armies – only humans do the army marching off to war thing.

I then thought about it even more. It’s always interesting when I start thinking as one never knows how long the journey will take or what one will find when one gets there!

Both children were using the exact same gurgle in the exact same way. Had I stumbled upon, (dramatic drum roll please – thank you.) a – conspiracy!

Are small children communicating with each other in a code we can not understand! Are they planning on an uprising – Nappy Spring? Personally I’m not too worried as they can’t make more of a hash up of it than we adults have already.

I shouldn’t dwell too publicly on this theory, as Homeland Security may take it seriously and introduce a whole package of restrictions to limit any potential threat. Children will be denied access to enlightened education, discouraged from free thinking, and a political and media driven PR campaign launched to paint children as the enemy. Others will be encouraged to disparage them at every opportunity. A bit like the Tea Part and Muslims, and what Britain has been doing with children for the last ten thousand years.

Soon it was time for me to make my way back and get back to work. I like that time of the afternoon as several varieties of birds start singing in my garden. I opened the window and listened.

They weren’t singing – they were talking. I noticed one blackbird would listen for different sounds from near and far and respond with a different call. I could see his throat change with each different response. They were talking to each other, up and down the street.

Apart from the Indian Myna birds who although small, will chase blackbirds, ravens, magpies and cockatoos away from what they regard as their territory, all the birds seem to get on pretty well. I especially love the kookaburras that just ignore anything that is going on around them and sit on a branch looking around and contemplating life.

Very few fights, no violent battles over territory. Just a lot of late afternoon talking.
I don’t know what they are saying, but it seems to make a lot more sense than I hear at “peace” conferences and summits.

Wherever you may be - be safe
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