A cute, mischievous little stop-motion penguin that hangs out in the Arctic with his family and seal pal. What’s not to love? I’ll tell you what! The fact that my toddler is now fluent in Penguinese – and nothing else.
My toddler has been OBSESSED with the kids’ TV show Pingu (both old and new versions) for a while now. He just turned two and I even made him an igloo cake topped with tiny Pingu figurines I bought online from Japan (yeah I was insanely organised for once). His two older brothers quite like the show and my husband and I don’t mind it either – it’s pretty cute, after all. That said, we recently realised that it might be the reason why our son’s not talking yet.
The youngest of three boys, you’d think he’d be a regular Mister Chatterbox, but he’s not. Well, at least not in English! Aside from a few words ( e.g. ‘Daddy’, ‘Mama’, ‘No’ and ‘Yeah’), he only talks in gibberish – complete with animated expressions and motions. He’s a real character but we’ve been wondering why he’s not saying more words. Given he understands absolutely everything we say and we are able to communicate with him on a certain level, we haven’t been too worried generally. But now we’re getting a bit over it and the penny dropped the other day that he’s actually speaking, but just in another language – Penguinese.
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Made up language
According to Pingu Wiki (yep, there’s such a thing):
Penguinese (also known as Pinguish), is a fictional language spoken by the characters in Pingu. It is uninterpretable to the audience leaving the dialogue up to the viewers’ imagination. It consists of babbling, muttering, and Pingu’s characteristic sporadic loud honking noise, which is either spelt as “Nug Nug!” or more popularly “Noot Noot!”.
It even has its own alphabet. God help us all!
MORE Learning and Development
To make matters worse, my toddler is also a thumb sucker and we’ve realised our middle son has been talking back to him in Penguinese as well – encouraging it for crying out loud! I know babies are meant to babble, but this is next level stuff here. It’s a Pingu takeover!
And while we’re at it, let’s think about all the other children’s TV shows where the characters are either silent, only say one word or unintelligible. Off the top of my head there’s the Teletubbies, In the Night Garden, Miniscule, Harry and Bunnie, Clangers – even Shaun the Sheep! The list goes on. I think the worst offenders though are the characters that have their own language, like Pingu. Because there’s no narrator explaining what’s going on and just an endless stream of babbling nonsense.
So thanks a lot Pingu. You may be cute but you are NOT helping my toddler to learn how to speak. I think it might be time to take a break from the telly, although given my youngest absolutely rules the house I’m not sure how well that’s going to go down! And if we don’t start hearing a few more words IN ENGLISH soon then it might be a trip to the therapist.
Darn that puny penguin!
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