Little o is talking alot now, but we are all still taking baby steps in understanding him. My guess is that he could have been confused living in a bilingual environment so it takes a while to catch the phonetics AND the intonation for him to articulate himself.
Just like what we have for Qi and Chi, which mean the same thing – 气 (氣 in Traditional), the pronunciation is different. We have been speaking to Oscar in proper Mandarin and also proper English, whereas Oliver had it easier, we only spoke to him in English but did not bother him on his Mandarin. So there, Oscar will say Qi (the correct Chinese pronunciation), but Oliver will say Chi. Double standards, or more like, learning from our lessons.
I know Oscar is a little confused about English intonation, because he would watch different YouTube videos, and pronounce Killer Whale according to the different intonations on the videos, with a very puzzled look on his face. Whereas for Chinese intonations, they are fixed – very specific on which tone it is. His vocabulary is not broad enough to have to deal with the different intonations of a specific character according to their context yet.
It is hard for us to understand what he is saying, because he could be speaking in Mandarin, or he could be speaking in English, and most likely a mix of both in a sentence *eyerolling*. I feel a little bad for him. He is probably the first in our family to have to deal with both languages at the same time (everyone of us started with a primary focus, and then picked up the secondary a little later).
It is tough for him. Imagine, he was telling us he wants to SHOW SEA ANIMALS. My mom thought he wanted to 收 (shou, which means keep) his sea animals, and asked him why he is taking them out when he wants to keep them. So I just played with him, and he showed me all the sea animal toys with their names! And he pronounced Killer Whale in different intonations! 😀 That was how I figured all the above!
Mom reminded us be respectful and pay attention to him when he’s talking, because just because we cannot understand does not mean we should brush him off. Which makes total sense. I also listen hard to what he says because it is fun, and it makes me happy to see him so happy when I get what he is saying.
I think this is a good principle to apply to every communication with every person young and old. Sometimes conflicts arise because we do not pay enough attention to what people actually mean because we look superficially at the spoken words alone. Not everyone has the ability to communicate clearly, and it makes the world a better place if we can be more patient and forgiving about that.