Cho luath ri seabhag

“As fast as a hawk” as they say – and indeed it is. It’s been a week – so two sessions on from last Sunday and progress is so palpable I’m fair gobsmacked. Ok so he hasn’t come out with a verb just yet although he got close today having picked up his first verbal noun – falbh (leaving, going away) but stuff is clearly happening in the background. He no longer insists that the small spinning top (which I use as a trick to re-orient his attention if he gets caught up in an English book/rhyme/song) is a bàla (ball) but is now saying dòtaman (spinning top) ad nauseum. Admittedly, it comes out as /dɔdəmən/ but given how quickly he picked up the ao sound, unlike with adult classes, I’m not worried about his pronuciation at all, it’ll sort itself.

He also clearly understands more than I sometimes think he does. As a lot of our interactions are very contextual, it’s just hard sometimes to judge how much he is relying on the context and how much he’s getting from speech. But today on the way out, following on from a comment by his mum earlier, I said bheil thu dol a chuideachadh dadaidh sa ghàrradh? (you going to help daddy in the garden) and he immediately ran to his dad and said are we going in the garden? – so clearly he must have picked up on sa ghàrradh (in the garden) at least. It does occur in once of the picture dictionaries as a title.

I also realised he actually understands the function of mar sin leat (goodbye) because, as he put the spinning top on the toy bus, I said bheil an dòtaman a’ falbh air a’ bhus? mar sin leat, dòtaman (is the spinning top going/leaving on the bus? goodbye, spinning top) and he started waving goodbye at it. And handing it back to me, he said mòran taing (thank you) for the fist time today (I’d been saying mòran taing repeatedly as he was handing me the top to spin again). Fine, so it was the “wrong phrase” but it seems to have lodged as a phrase to use in the thank you/you’re welcome exchange. Ciamar a tha thu (how are you) still confuses him, I think he’s figured it’s a greeting but he’s unsure of the answer, today he tried to echo the last word, thu (you), bless him. I may have to put on some theatrics with mum so he can observe the interaction. Or maybe use finger puppets. We’ll see.

He’s much quicker and vocal at repeating new words now too. Faoileag (seagull) was new today and came straight back at me after saying it once. Of course English is dominant in his head still and he’ll often come out with doggie or dolly first but is quite happy to repeat cù, doileag – even damhan-allaidh (spider) popped out today – or whatever after a quick prompt.

I’m still eagerly awaiting a verb and I’ve got an idea or two about what I might try but I get the feeling that once we establish a small working grammar and vocabulary beyond nouns and adjectives, he’ll be off like a rocket.

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