It seems to me that Penny doesn't really need language because she communicates effectively without a formal communication system. She has inflection in her voice, she points, she gestures. And there is also the screaming, which is extremely effective.
For example, "Mmm?" with hands out, means "Can I have some more of that?" or, "Will you remove this cat fur from my hands?" or "Please take your phone from me? I know I'm not supposed to have it." She jargons while she walks around and says "Mmm?...Mmm?" all day long.
"Mmm!" with a nod, means "Yes!" or "It's about time, lady!"
"Mmm-mm" with a head shake, means "No way, Jose." or "I don't want that."
But she's starting to talk and use some baby signs, and it's really exciting to see her make the connection between words (spoken and signed) and things. She was reading Baby Beluga the other day, and signed "fish" and pointed to the fish on the page. I almost fell out of my chair. I have probably signed "fish" a hundred times and didn't think she was paying attention. Later, we were at a friend's house, and she signed "fish" when she saw their fish tank. At first I thought she was waving, but then it occurred to me she was signing "fish!"
Here she is, signing "baby," with a little help from me.
Other signs she has been known to attempt:
Dog (once, so I'm counting it)
Her signs for "shoe," "ball," and "more" all look the same, but she attempts to imitate me when I sign them, so I am thinking they should all count. Babies don't pronounce words with 100% accuracy, so her signing accuracy will probably develop as her fine motor skills improve. To clarify, the reasons I am signing are not just because I happen to know some sign language, nor because I expect Penny to become fluent in sign (I'm not fluent). But I am interested to see if having a supplementary way to communicate will help avoid some of the tantrums that might be coming our way in the near future. The theory is, if children have a way to express themselves and communicate their needs, they will be less frustrated and be less likely to throw giant fits. Nice theory, huh? We'll see if it works.
Words to date:
Wow! (and Oh, Wow!)
The other day, I pointed to her shoes, which were across the room, and said, "Penny, go get your shoes." She walked over, picked them up, and brought them to me. Uh-oh. Now we're going to really have to watch the swearing around here.