Culture Magazine

Babies Can Speak Marathi

By Englishwifeindianlife

Baby's first words are exciting, something to look forward to. There was a bit of added suspense in our home, will they be English words or Marathi words?

Baby babble is universal, the first sounds and noises every baby makes are similar across the globe. When my son started to produce sounds, I made a really interesting observation. These sounds that we call baby babble in England can be translated into Marathi words, Marathi words for family members along with a couple other words a baby may want to use.

The fact is, I didn't realise my son had spoken his first recognisable word for weeks because it was a Marathi word...

" At-ta" he kept saying, pointing at things he wanted, the family overjoyed at the beautiful little voice. It wasn't until I thought to ask, I discovered that at-ta, means "now" in Marathi! Once I knew, I suddenly heard it in conversation all the time.

When baby wants something, he wants it at-ta!

At-ta is the first of many Marathi words my baby will undoubtedly teach me.

Ba-ba means father, da-da means elder brother, aai means mother, for example. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the other "babbles" could be translated too. I will have to start asking more regularly as his sweet little vocabulary grows.

The first time my son looked towards me and shouted " aaiiii ", I was shocked. He was calling me. I refer to myself to him in the traditional English, "Mummy". I wonder if it is common first call some babies have when searching for their mothers and Marathi people were taking notice.

Babies Can Speak Marathi

Mummy is obviously a more complicated word for a baby to say, but who knows, maybe I will be forever known as Aai? I completely understand why people get so excited over linguistics and the origins of words.

It is really fascinating.

We are currently living with my in-laws in a joint family set up, so they speak to him in Marathi while our neighbour's sons (6 and 11) play with him in Hindi. My sonshine enthusiastically shouts " da-da " when he sees them, along with every other child he meets (male or female, gender irrelevant). My husband and I speak to him in English, along with a couple of Hindi and Marathi songs, as it's the language we communicate in. We also have a lot of visitors who mostly speak Marathi.

It is lovely to know my child will grow up speaking multiple languages, but I am really looking forward to hearing the first English word. We will be visiting England soon to attend my sister's wedding, so perhaps England will inspire some English.


What were your first words? What were your children's first words?

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