I follow the Humans of New York Facebook page – if you don’t know it, check it out! – and the photographer is currently exploring other parts of the world in partnership with the United Nations and posting the stories and pictures of people living in the places he visits.
While there are similarities in a child’s first words across languages (for example mummy, daddy, hello, bye, uh oh and woof-woof are typical first words in English, Cantonese and Putonghua), there are also differences in the types of words that are first said. However, I imagine for nearly all cultures and languages a child’s first word is memorable. While not as deep as some of the stories posted by Humans of New York I really liked this story today from Nairobi, Kenya.
(This picture isn’t on the HONY website yet, when it is I’ll try to remember to link it to there instead of the Facebook page).
My first word was “gone”. Apparently I used to sit in a high-chair in the kitchen while mum pottered around. I used to play with my toy cars and sometimes launch them off my high chair with a “gone!”. Mum would pick them up and put them back on the high-chair for me to launch them off again. I imagine mum used to say something such as “The car has gone again!”, which baby me picked up on. Before I could talk, I used to imitate the sounds of motorbikes and crows. Why just motorbikes and crows and not other vehicles or animals I don’t know. I do still love crows though, they’re intelligent, awkward and beautiful. Curious to read about other people’s first words.