When Language Becomes Redundant

My daughter is now in the stage of uttering complete words and making simple sentences. Using pauses and exclamations. With me and husband having different mother tongue, we were afraid of exposing her to multiple languages. Hence from the beginning we spoke with her in one language, that is the language me and husband speak with each other. Surprisingly it is none of ours mother tongue. Hindi, it is.

When Language Becomes Redundant

This winter, she met her cousin brother who speaks only Gujarati and bit of Sindhi. I wondered how the kids all of 2.3 and 2.8 years  old, one speaking Hindi and bit of English and other constructing phases in Gujarati and Sindhi will interact, or if at all they will interact?

To my surprise, they didn’t need language to communicate. Language never came between them. “Haan“,  “Na” were being communicated loudly and understood by both. For rest, they had gestures and body language. They had expressions and sigh. They had fight and protest. They had hugs and kisses. They had so much of it all, that language was merely a spare accessory of their communication.

They never needed language to communicate “You are going? Take me along” or “Hey this cycle is mine, you better get lost”.

They copied each other for first few days, without speaking. I decode that aping as “I hereby belong to your tribe, let me try what you have discovered”.

We adults, in the hustle bustle of our daily life pay attention only to the spoken words while communicating, whereas children understand gestures more. They communicate faster via expressions. Spoken words are redundant for them. I don’t remember the last time I noticed how someone waved their hands while saying goodbye, or did they wave at all. For us, gestures are redundant.

Kids absorb our gesture without us knowing it mostly. That is why it becomes even more important for us to become cautious of our negative body language. As a kid, I remember an uncle of mine shook his fingers away in the air saying “ja.. ja yaha se“. Those words were fainted over time, but that gesture remained synonymous to humiliation for me.

Though gestures are more impromptu, natural and raw. Still during moments of contradictory gesture and words, we adults register what been said, not whats been shown. Contrary to kids. Kids teaches us to go back to our basic instincts and follow the gestures.

Milan Kundera while writing Immortality must have been able to keep the Kid inside him alive, when he conceptualized the heroine of his novel from the gesture of an old woman waving goodbye to her trainer.

Let us use gestures. Knowingly and cautiously.

Let us read gestures. They say the truth, after-all.

Amrita Thavrani is a mother to a two year old daughter. She writes children stories at thestoryhook.blogspot.com. Say hello to her while strolling at the tweet street @TheSeeSawMother.

  • Very well said.. language is not an issue of communication between 2-4 yrs old.. My kiddo is a good friend with a girl in her class who does not know any language that my kiddo understands.

    • Amrita Thavrani

      Yes Divya, It was quite surprising for me to witness the kids communicating without language.

  • Absolutely correct…. when we were in Kolkota my daughter had no idea about Bangla but she would comfortably play with all the Bengali kids in the complex.

    • Amrita Thavrani

      The world of language is complicated. Kids keep it simple.