Thursday, 29 September 2016

Areu, areu

"Areu" is one of the few words that I learned through doing crosswords in French. I've been attempting for years to learn to do mots fléchés, which are more or less the equivalent of a quick (non-cryptic) crossword, although I believe the most accurate translation is actually "arrow words". In that time I have progressed from Level 1 to almost being able to do Level 2. (I was delighted when I learned that there was also a Level 1-2 category because it made me feel that I had made more progress!) As it turns out, doing synonym crosswords is a fairly useless way of learning vocabulary because you encounter the words entirely out of context and, if you cheat by looking at the answers often enough, you can learn that two words are synonyms of each other without actually knowing what either of them means.

Anyway, it turns out that even learning the word areu from the crosswords was a bit pointless, because my daughter probably says it to me a few hundred times every day. The best English translation of it is probably "goo-goo, ga-ga", but that is nothing like as onomatopoeic as the French word for that cooing noise that babies make when they're happy.

Unless, I've been wondering, it's particularly French babies who make the sound in this way. Perhaps it's being surrounded by all those rolling rrrs that makes them exercise their vocal cords like this.

I suspect probably not, but I do like my theory and I haven't spent enough time with other babies of this age to have any evidence to the contrary. Any thoughts?


  1. My mom tells me that I did a lot of French r's when I was a baby, just rolling them around in the back of my throat. Then of course at some point I stopped doing it---but your baby will continue! Babies are supposed to start mimicking only sounds from the languages they hear at around 8 months, and so let go of the others around that time. Which we then regret our entire lives if we try to learn a foreign language.

    I can't wait to be in on all this myself.

  2. I can't recall Mark doing a perfect "areu" either. When he was a newborn, his hunger cries sounded like "wo e, wo e" (which means "I'm hungry" in Mandarin).

    1. She does that one too - time to start learning Mandarin before it's too late?!?!