Our seven-month-old recently cracked the hard shell of language with her tiny tongue and came rolling into the linguistic world. I’m delighted to report that her first word was “da-da.” I’ve reflected on this a bit as I’ve watched her use that word over and over again for a few weeks.
That little two-syllable expression is a tiny sound with tremendous power; it’s her key to the great gate of human language. With a touch of the tongue, she can break the lock of isolation and invite our gaze and attention. Her otherness can call out to our otherness, and togetherness is born. Relationship comes through sound. Needs are met when silence is broken. Diaper change? “Da-da.” Hungry? “Da-da.” Deep in philosophical self-inspection? “Da-da” (hey, we can’t really tell, can we?).
A child’s growth in language is beautifully mysterious at this stage. Our daughter has only just realized that she’s capable of communion with others. And isn’t that the heart of language: communion? The very idea fills me with hope and peace and wonder, which is why I wrote a book on it. Communion, however, is not primarily a human thing; it is first and foremost a divine thing. The God who dwells in three persons is communion, the eternal and unimaginable hearth of relationship.
So, as my daughter utters her “da-da,” I slip in and out of amazement. This . . . this is the stuff of God. So often it’s met with “Awwwwww!” instead of awe.
Well, I’m awed. I’m thankful, too, that God gives such grand gifts to those who have almost no idea what to do with them. It draws me to God’s sovereignty.
Don’t ever let anyone convince you that language is a purely human thing. It’s not. It never was. It never will be. Language is a divine gift, and it reflects the giver in myriad ways.
Like what you read? Read more about it in my book, The Speaking Trinity & His Worded World: Why Language Is at the Center of Everything. Download a FREE chapter HERE. Or click the image below to purchase the book.