Posted by: powellsinsantacruz | August 13, 2012

Limited language…

Evie, who has just turned one, got the walking thing done pretty quickly. However, the other major skill to tick off her to do list- talking- is proving a little trickier. She only really has three distinct sounds under her belt- aaa, daa and ma, but boy does she make them work hard. With variations in volume, pitch, speed, tone, repetition and of course body language and facial expression, “Dada” could mean anything from “I really love you Caleb. I want to hug you to show that in a way that is a little bit too rough for your young age” or “Give me that biscuit now.” It is quite hard to express through the medium of a blog quite how many different ways she uses these few sounds to communicate so effectively.

If only I could follow her example. Although my Spanish vocabulary is larger than three words I do not always seem to be able to get my point across. And often I think the thing that holds me back is my accent or intonation or use of the words I do know. Now with Evie Roz and I are desperate to understand what she may be trying to say to us- so much so that Roz claimed earlier today Evie said Hola. Using two totally new sounds. I am sceptical. Anyway, we are so excited by her wanting to communicate that we try really hard to understand her. (You see this with other parents all the time- their child says something that sounds like “bababa” and the parents answer “Why, yes, of course you shall go to university when you are 18. Now eat your lunch.” I sometimes feel they are just making it up). My point is that when you are 31 and have lived in Bolivia for 2 1/2 years people have slightly higher expectations of your ability to talk. My friend Saul lovingly tells me I really need to improve my Spanish. My limited language and difficulty with the accent make communication tricky at times. I can get over what I mean, but group discussions and the past tense are still tricky areas.

When talking about and to God our language is extremely limited. How can you describe the indescribable? How can I talk about someone who is so far beyond me- so infinite? I need to make my words work very hard indeed. But when I do talk to God he wants to hear me much more than Roz and I want to understand Evie. And the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is praying for us in groans that words cannot express. So when I get to the end of my limited language to thank God or cry out to Him about something or confess something I’ve got wrong I know securely that my Heavenly Father understands. Much better than I do in fact.

*P.S. When we bought Chloe’s cake for her birthday I asked for four candles. The person selling the cake said “Fork handles? We don’t have any.”

*This is totally untrue. Firstly Roz bought the cake, not me. Secondly the person selling the cake didn’t speak English and I don’t think it works in Spanish. If I don’t shoehorn it in now though I have to wait three years until Evie turns four before making some kind of similar joke or mentioning the two Ronnies.



  1. I think I can add another sound to Evie’s repertoire – I’m convinced she said “ananan” to me a few times when I was with you – wishful thinking?!

  2. Thanks Ben x

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