Amma Vaa, Appa Baa

Disha is exposed to a daily dose of Kannada, Tamil and English. Whether we are talking to her or with others, she is soaking in each spoken word, gesture or action. Karthik would be the only one conversing with her in Tamil while my sister Aditi and I would be talking Kannada. If her grandparents are around its mostly Tamil time.


She is able to understand all the three languages and respond to them. When she calls me, its always been “amma vaa”- tamil for “come mother”. Whereas “appa baa”- translates to “come father” in kannada.


She responds to Karthik’s parents when they ask her what she ate in Tamil, she says Anna.


Other words that she commonly uses now are “illi” and “alli” which means here and there in kannada. She likes having her meals in the balconies of our apt. When she sees food served on a plate she most likely says – “alli” pointing towards the balcony, so that we can go sit there and eat. She calls to all the “paapas” (babies), “humbas” (cattle), the “baas and maas” (sheep and goats) and “bow-bows” (dogs) to eat with her.


She likes commenting on what other people are doing. Like yesterday, she was following my grandfather around with her eyes. She said “thatha” (grandfather) and rubbed her hands together while he was washing his hands. Then she said “thatha alli” when he had gone to the adjoining room away from her sight. After sometime when he went to sleep, she commented- “thatha” and showed the sign for sleeping.


Her english words are No and Button. “Uhoh” when something falls or spills.


Yesterday, when she was playing with her grandaunt, she said “Dish” at least 10 times. I do not know if it meant Disha, but I would like to think that it did.


There are all these times when she is seriously telling us something, which we are unable to follow. But when any of us try to interpret what she said and ask her if that’s what she meant, she always shakes her head indicating a yes.


Sometimes we wonder if she would get confused with so many languages being spoken at the same time. Or if it would seem to her that its all the same language being spoken to her with many different words meaning the same thing. Either way, what is important is that she mostly gets us, its just that we do not get her, always.


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