So here I am getting my shit together by smoking a cigarette & remembering my son M when he was first learning to talk. Oh well okay - I want to write it down now while it's in my head.
M started talking at around 11 months during a trip to the Baltimore Zoo - in the now defunct and always sadly abandoned African Village he managed to pet some goats through the fence from his stroller and shouted, wildly overjoyed, "A Dog!! A Dog!!!" After that, he created a system of classifications we used for years - and still use, sometimes. Adog, said as one word, was any furry animal and some people, particularly those with beards. Buggo was any insect, reptile or fish. It also meant the woods - wherein, of course, most buggos are encountered. Ap was food. All birds were quack-quacks, and helicopters, of which he was fond, were whub-whubs. Garbage trucks were buddy (this came from a very nice garbage man who used to holler Hey Buddy! at him when we watched them come through the alley, a high point of our week.)
I have always liked the way small children classify their world. It's like the way they draw: this stick and circle is always a tree, this circle with dots is a face. I tried for a long time to do this with my own art: draw things exactly the same every time and just move them around. It's the most basic form of language: the naming, descriptive index in which things are static but circumstances move around.
Thus, you feed ap to the quack-quacks in the park and if you're lucky a big buggo will rise up to the surface of the pond for some ap too. When you're driving through the woods it's helpful to point and shout "Buggo! Adog!" because they probably are out there. As you get older there are more points of reference: a moo, a baby, sister, vroom vroom the motorcycle. But the building blocks stay the same.