"Happy Birthday Nana" - a peek into Abigail's communication style

The Background
Abigail primarily communicates in one-word "phrases". (Although I don't think a single word can really be considered a phrase, per se.) She often communicates her thoughts by using multiple words, but they are not usually related in any grammatical way. (i.e. she will say "Sing, (pause) Car" to tell me that she wants to go in the car to go sing at IHOP. When she asks for things, she will say either "please" or the name of the item...but never "juice, please" in one phrase. Every now and then she will put two words together to make a logical "sentence", but it seems like it's usually not very intentional.

We went to a birthday party for our dear friend Matt recently, and I tried to teach her to say "Happy Birthday". At that time, she needed me to prompt each word separately.

The Statement
A couple days ago when Abigail was eating dinner, she started spontaneously saying "Happy Birthday Nana". She said this completely unprompted, and repeated it at least a couple times. Lo and behold, Nana's birthday was just a day or two before that, but I don't remember telling that to Abigail. I ran to grab the camera to try to get a good clip of her saying the whole phrase.

The Conversation
This is what followed:

The Transcript (with interpretation)
I started the video just as Abigail was finishing saying "Nana"

MOM: quietly prompting: Say Happy Birthday Nana

ABIGAIL: untranslatable singing with dancing.
Baow! (Belle, Nana and Grandpa's dog)

MOM: Abigail, Can you say Happy Birthday Nana?

ABIGAIL: Looking around sadly because she can't see her: NANA! Nana, Nana!
(realizing that Nana is definitely not here)
Uh, dah, dah, dah. Wook (work. Because if someone is not here, they must be "at work" - that's where Daddy goes when he's gone.)
De, dah. Bampa. (Grandpa. Because we've already named Nana and Belle.)

MOM: Abigail, can you say Happy Birthday?

ABIGAIL: All smiles: Hah-Pee Hur-day!

MOM: whispering a prompt: Nana

ABIGAIL: whispers back: Nana
louder Doh. No.

MOM: Can you say Happy Birthday Nana?

ABIGAIL: singing: Do hah-pee da-ay. No-hah.
talking: Pway! pway! (Pray! pray!)(because at Matt's birthday party we all prayed for him, so to Abigail, birthdays are apparently inextricably linked to praying.)
Folding her hands, bowing her head, praying: Tooh. Dee-dut (which might mean "Jesus", but it's not always clear). Boh, bun, dee.
Spying a tasty-looking apple on her plate: Appo (apple). Nee, dow.



Song & Matt February 18, 2007 at 9:10 PM  

O my goodness, we are honored that Abigail links praying to Matt's birthday! That little sweetheart is so precious. What a tender heart! Gotta love her...

Matt February 20, 2007 at 2:32 PM  

We loved the transcript. It's hard to imagine anyone cuter or saying things that are any cuter. I am especially touched that my name made it into this post.

However, I found a discrepancy in your transcription. There is a funny little noise at about the 38 second mark which I could not find in your script.

Would you be able to tell me what that was, Sarah?

sarah March 3, 2007 at 7:11 PM  

Oh, Matt, I'm sure I don't have any idea what noise you could possibly be talking about! I suppose it could possibly be related to the big glass of root beer that I drank right before turning on the camera.