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0787 Speaking to a Baby or Young Child

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 787: Speaking to a Baby or Young Child.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 787. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there and download a Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is all about the kind of words you would use when talking to a baby or a small child, something a mother, a father, or perhaps a babysitter – someone watching a young child – might say. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

My sister had to go out of town for a couple of days and I offered to look after her 18-month-old twins. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was over my head!



Colleen: Okay, you two, it’s time to go beddy-bye.

Baby: No!

Colleen: Yes, let’s get your jammies on. You can keep your binkie for now. Your blankie is already in your bed and it’s time to go night-night.

Baby: Potty!

Colleen: Okay, once you have your jammies on, we’ll go potty. What’s the matter, Mark?

Baby: Owie!

Colleen: You have an owie? Where? In your tummy? Oh, you have a boo-boo on your finger. No, don’t stick your wet finger in your brother’s ear. That’s icky. Wait one teensy-weensy minute and I’ll put a band-aid on it.

Baby: Whee!

Colleen: Michael, you can’t jump off the chair like that. That’s a no-no. Oopsie-daisy!

Baby: Waaaaa!



Michael had learned his lesson and so had I!

[end of dialogue]

Our story begins with Colleen saying that her sister had to go out of town for a couple of days and I offered to look after her 18-month-old twins. “To look after (someone)” means to take care of someone: “I’m going to look after my nephew, who’s five years old,” or, “I’m going to look after my neighbor’s dog while he is on vacation.” Neither of those things I would actually do however, just an example! Well in the story, Colleen offers to look after her 18-month-old twins – well, her sister’s 18-month-old twins. “Twins” are two children who are born at the same time from the same mother – well obviously, one usually comes out of the mother before the other. I have twins in my family; I have older brothers who are twins. My sister has two children who are also twins. In the story, we have two twins who are 18 months old, a year and a half. Colleen says, “It wasn’t long before I realized that I was over my head!” We might more commonly say, “I was in over my head.” “To be over your head” means to be in a situation that is too difficult for you, that you are not able to manage or handle.

Colleen says to the babies, “Okay, you two (you two babies), it’s time to go beddy-bye.” “Beddy-bye” comes from the word “bed” (bed) and “goodbye.” “Beddy-bye” (beddy-bye) is an expression you use with young children to talk about going to bed and falling asleep. You may say, “Well, let’s go beddy-bye,” or, “It’s time for you to go beddy-bye,” meaning you have to leave now and go to your room and fall asleep; at least that’s the plan.

The baby says, “No!” Colleen says okay, “let’s get your jammies on.” “Jammies” (jammies) is a word you use with young children to describe pajamas. “Pajamas” are the clothing that you put on to go to bed, if you wear clothing to bed. If you don’t, I don’t need to know that! Colleen says, “You can keep your binkie for now.” A “binkie” (binkie) is, again, a word you would only use with a young child, a baby. It means a “pacifier,” which is a small piece of usually plastic that you put in the baby’s mouth so that they shut up – I mean, so that they don’t cry. The baby sucks on the pacifier, and it’s called a “binkie.” Why a “binkie”? I don’t know. I tried to take care of my niece once, when she was, oh, maybe a year and a half old, just like the example here. It was a total disaster. I never offered to babysit – to look after my brother’s children again. That was 1978, by the way.

Well, back to our story. Colleen tells the babies, “Your blankie is already in your bed and it’s time to go night-night.” “Blankie” (blankie) is again a word, like most of these words, you would only use with a small child or a baby. “Blankie” is a “blanket,” something you put on you to keep yourself warm in a bed. “Night-night” is like “beddy-bye,” it’s a word you say to children when they’re going to bed and falling asleep. You might also say it just to mean “good night.” “Night-night” would mean “good night” to young child.

The baby, however, has other ideas, as babies often do. One of the babies says, “Potty!” “Potty” (potty) is a baby word for bathroom or toilet. You might say to a young child, say under the age of four, “Do you have to go potty?” “Do you have to go to the potty?” Either one would be correct. You’re asking them if they need to use the bathroom – for those who are old enough, of course, to use the bathroom. So the baby says, “Potty,” meaning that he or she – he, in this case – wants to go to the bathroom. Colleen says, “Okay, once you have your jammies on, we’ll go potty,” meaning we’ll go to the bathroom – take you to the bathroom.

Then, she says, “What’s the matter, Mark?” Mark is the name of one of the babies; it’s also the name of one of my brothers, who is a twin. The baby says, “Owie!” “Owie,” which I guess we would spell (owie), is a word that children use to talk about some injury, when they hurt themselves, if something hurts. A parent might also use it with a child: “Do you have an owie?” Do you have something that hurts, usually if you cut yourself or hit yourself. Colleen says, “You have an owie? Where? In your tummy?” “Tummy” (tummy) is a baby word for stomach. Colleen says, “Oh, you have a boo-boo on your finger.” A “boo-boo” (boo-boo) is a baby word similar to “owie,” when you cut yourself or hit yourself or hurt yourself somewhere.

Colleen says, “Now, don’t stick your wet finger in your brother’s ear. That’s icky.” Something that is “icky” (icky) is unpleasant, it’s unattractive, we might say it’s “gross.” It’s, again, a word used with children. Colleen says, “Wait one teensy-weensy minute and I’ll put a band-aid on it.” “Teensy-weensy” is a baby word to used to describe something that is very small. Another similar expression is “itsy-bitsy,” but “teensy-weensy” is perhaps a little more common I guess, I don’t know. I don’t talk to babies very often. But, Colleen uses “teensy-weensy,” a “teensy-weensy minute,” meaning a very short amount of time, and she’ll put a band-aid on the baby’s boo-boo. A “band-aid” is a small, sticky piece of plastic, or some other material, that you put over a cut. When a child or an adult cuts themselves, when they have a cut in the skin that may be bleeding – blood is coming out of it – you would put a band-aid on it – a bandage. I think Band-Aid is like Kleenex, what we call a “brand name,” it’s actually the name of a company; the technical word, or the common word would be a “bandage.” But it’s quite common for people just to call it a “band-aid,” the way in some countries they use the word “hoover” to talk about a vacuum cleaner, in British English I believe.

The baby says, “Whee!” “Whee” would be when a baby is happy they may say something like that. Colleen says, “Michael” – who is the other young baby, and also my brother; his name is Michael, also a twin – says, “Michael, you can’t jump off the chair like that. That’s a no-no.” A “no-no” is a word we use, again with children, for something that is not allowed, something that is not permitted, something they cannot do. Colleen says then, “Oopsie-daisy!” “Oopsie-daisy” is a phrase used with children when they’ve made a mistake, when something didn’t go as you planned it to go. In English with adults we would probably just say something like “oops” (oops) – “oops” when you make a mistake. Some adults may use other words when they make a mistake, as well!

The baby then, who just jumped off the chair – Michael just jumped off the chair, and he starts to cry: “Waaaaa!” “Michael,” Colleen says, “had learned his lesson and so had I!” “To learn your lesson” means to learn from a difficult situation, maybe a painful situation. When you do something wrong, you realize your mistake, and we hope you learn your lesson, meaning you won’t do it again. Michael had learned his lesson, and Colleen says she had learned her lesson, too, which is not to babysit her 18-month-old nephews!

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

My sister had to go out of town for a couple of days and I offered to look after her 18-month-old twins. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was over my head!



Colleen: Okay, you two, it’s time to go beddy-bye.

Baby: No!

Colleen: Yes, let’s get your jammies on. You can keep your binkie for now. Your blankie is already in your bed and it’s time to go night-night.

Baby: Potty!

Colleen: Okay, once you have your jammies on, we’ll go potty. What’s the matter, Mark?

Baby: Owie!

Colleen: You have an owie? Where? In your tummy? Oh, you have a boo-boo on your finger. No, don’t stick your wet finger in your brother’s ear. That’s icky. Wait one teensy-weensy minute and I’ll put a band-aid on it.

Baby: Whee!

Colleen: Michael, you can’t jump off the chair like that. That’s a no-no. Oopsie-daisy!

Baby: Waaaaa!



Michael had learned his lesson and so had I!

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, is never in over her head when she’s writing scripts. Thank you Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to look after – to take care of someone, especially a child

* Could you look after the kids for a minute while I go to the store?

twins – two children who have the same mother and were born at the same time, sometimes identical (with the same physical appearance)

* Twins are so much work! Whenever one of them finally falls asleep, the other one wants to eat or needs a clean diaper.

over (one’s) head – in a situation that is too difficult or challenging, without the skills or experience needed to succeed in that situation

* Oliver knew the job would be difficult, but he realized he was over his head when he couldn’t understand the financial reports he was supposed to summarize.

beddy-bye – a word used with children to talk about going to bed and falling asleep

* You need to go beddy-bye by eight o’clock, or your parents will be mad when they get home.

jammies – a word used with children to talk about pajamas, or clothes worn while sleeping

* Noura always wants to wear her favorite jammies with pictures of rabbits.

binkie – a word used with children to talk about a pacifier, or a small piece of plastic that a baby or young child puts in the mouth and sucks on for comfort, similar to drinking from a bottle or nursing (drinking milk from a mother’s breast)

* The dentists said that using a binkie can be bad for children’s teeth.

blankie – a word used with children to talk about a blanket, especially a favorite blanket that the child uses to comfort himself or herself

* Ali’s blankie has been washed so many times that it’s starting to fall apart, but we can’t get rid of it because it helps him fall asleep.

night-night – a word used with children to talk about going to bed and falling asleep; good night

* You can play for five more minutes, and then it’s time to brush your teeth and go night-night.

potty – a word used with children to talk about needing to go to the bathroom, use the toilet, and/or urinate (pee; pass liquid out of one’s body)

* Jasmine, do you need to use the potty before we go into the theater?

owie – a word used with children to talk about an injury or a painful part on one’s body

* Ewan held up his hurt finger and told his mother to kiss his owie.

tummy – a word used with children to talk about one’s abdominal area or stomach

* Ben likes to lift up his shirt and show everyone his tummy.

boo-boo – a word used with children to talk about an injury or a painful part on one’s body

* Yessina, how did you get that boo-boo on your forehead?

icky – unpleasant, unattractive, undesirable, and gross

* If you don’t like the way something tastes, just leave it on your plate, but don’t say that it’s icky, or you might hurt the cook’s feelings.

teensy-weensy – a word used with children to describe something that is very small or short

* How can you be scared of such a teensy-weensy spider?

band-aid – adhesive bandage; a sticky piece of fabric or plastic with gauze (absorbent cotton) in the middle, placed on one’s skin over and around a cut to keep the area clean and help the skin heal more quickly

* The doctor put a band-aid on Alyssa’s arm after giving her a shot.

no-no – a word used with children to talk about something they should not do or cannot have; not allowed

* Hitting other people is a no-no.

oopsie-daisy – a phrased used with children when one has made a mistake or something didn’t happen as one had planned

* Oopsie-daisy! Next time, please be more careful so your milk doesn’t spill.

to learn (one’s) lesson – to learn from a difficult, awkward, or unpleasant personal experience and understand what one should or should not do in the future to avoid repeating that experience

* I offered to pay for Brandon’s dinner, but I didn’t know he’d order the most expensive bottle of wine in the restaurant. I’ve learned my lesson.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these things belongs in a child’s mouth?
a) Jammies.
b) A binkie.
c) A no-no.

2. What does it mean to say “Michael had learned his lesson”?
a) He learned how to talk to the twins.
b) He learned how difficult it can be to take care of twins.
c) He learned that he shouldn’t let kids climb on chairs.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to look after

The phrase “to look after,” in this podcast, means to take care of someone, especially a child: “Who looks after your son while you’re at work?” The phrase “to look over” means to review something, especially to check a document for errors: “Linda agreed to look over my essay before I give it to the professor.” The phrase “to look around” means to see what is in a particular place and become more familiar with it: “Welcome to our store! Please look around and let me know if you have any questions.” Finally, the phrase “to look back” means to think about something that happened in the past: “When you look back on your life, what was your happiest moment?”

no-no

In this podcast, the word “no-no” is used with children to talk about something they should not do or cannot have: “His father told him again and again that taking off his seatbelt in the car was a no-no.” A “no-show” is someone who does not come to a place when he or she was supposed to: “Forty people were supposed to come to the conference, but there were six no-shows.” A “no-brainer” is something that is very obvious and very easy and does not require any thought: “Turning down the heat is a no-brainer if you want to spend less on electricity.” The word “no-frills” describes something that is very simple and basic, without anything extra or fancy: “They bought a no-frills car for a really good price.” Finally, “no-nonsense” describes a person or approach that is very direct and straightforward: “The employees respect Blake for his no-nonsense management style.”

Culture Note
Terms for Relatives

Very few children call their parents “mother” and “father,” which sounds too “formal” (very respectful and polite, but not relaxed or comfortable). Instead, they’re more likely to call their mother “mom,” “mommy,” or “ma.” “Mom” is probably the most common word. Younger children are more likely to say “mommy,” especially until they enter school around age six. Children in the southern United States or in “rural” (country; not near a city) areas are more likely to say “ma.” Similar terms are used for talking to or about a father. “Dad” is the most common, but “daddy” is used by younger children. “Pa” is used by children in the southern United States or in rural areas.

The terms “grandfather” and “grandmother” are also “quite” (very) formal. Children are more likely to call their grandparents “grandpa” and “grandma.” “Nana” is another common term for grandma. You might hear “Nanna,” “Nanny,” Gran,” and “Granny,” too, although some people might think that “Gran” and “Granny” sound “disrespectful” (not showing enough respect and love). Some children call their grandfather “Poppy” or “Pappy.” Some grandparents ask their grandchildren to use special names for them, and some who wish they were younger ask their grandchildren to call them by their first names, because they don’t want other people to know they are grandparents.

Children usually call their “siblings” (brothers and sisters) by their first names. They may also use a family “nickname” (a name used by friends and relatives), especially if it’s how they first pronounced an older sibling’s name when they were very young, before they could say it correctly.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b