My sister asked me the other day “What does baby talk sound like when babies hear French?” and I realized that while I can kind of imagine it, really I have no idea. When does a baby get the ability to roll an R or pronounce a nasal vowel? Will that show up in his babel soon? And what happens to the baby babble of a baby raised bilingual? And will his first word be in French or English? I think the fact that I am so fascinated by our journey is a large part of what keeps me going day to day. I can’t wait to find out what Nelson will sound like!
I also don’t really know how French mothers speak to their babies when they are not speaking. I repeat his coos back to him, and say “mamama” “bababa” and “gugugu” because he has vaguely approximated those sounds, but have I not been trained to listen for the right French sounds to encourage him to repeat? And how early do I need to get him around native speakers? I have a sense that he still has time, and for now my approximation of the proper sounds is good enough, but I have so many sources I can’t keep the science from the folklore in my head. And there just isn’t that much science yet anyway! I also have a related but different concern– I think my accent deteriorates when I speak sing-song Mommy French. I have never seen anything that models it for me, and I try to keep it accurate but dancing with pitch and volume on top of trying to maintain a proper accent is proving to be difficult.
I might head to YouTube and do some research tonight. If I find some good French Motherese I’ll come back and share with you all.
Whatever sounds he ends up making, I know he is talking up a storm now, and already really trying to imitate. I love our conversations.