Monday, September 04, 2017

Gool, gork, gike. And Alexa.

Zoë isn't fond of initial consonants, except for G. She likes G a whole lot. All the others, though, she tends to leave off (or change them to G).

For example, this week she was feeling lonely while all her siblings were at school and began to ask where everyone had gone or was going. Daddy had left for work long ago and Grandpa had just left the house for a bike ride. She knew all of this, yet she still had to know.

"Acha go? Mimi go? 'Enji go?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Where did the kids go?"

"Know," she shrugged. "Gool."


"That's right. The kids are at school."

"Daddy go?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Where did Daddy go?"

"Know," she shrugged. "Gork."

"That's right. Daddy went to work."

"Ampa go?"

"I don't know. Where did Grandpa go?"

"Know," she shrugged. "Gike."

"That's right. Grandpa went for a bike ride."

Gool, gork, gike.
School, work, bike.

You see? G can stand in for anything (though it can also be elided, as in Ampa (Grandpa)).

The "know" thing is quizzical. We're still not sure whether she's saying "No," and then answering questions or if she's saying "I don't know," before answering the question anyway. As you can see, I often will turn her questions back at her, claiming to not know the answer...so maybe she thinks that what one says before answering a question. She does nearly every time she answers a question. And if she doesn't know the answer she'll just leave it at no/know.

"What colour is that, Zoë?"

"Know—nink."

(That's pink, so apparently she's into N as well).

Other colours are neen (green), gack (black), boo (blue), lalo (yellow), 'ed (red), and purple (she can say that one fairly well, actually). Brown and orange confuse her, as does grey, so those colours are just "no" (or "know" meaning "I don't know"). I'm pretty sure she says 'ite for white.

Decoding her speech can be somewhat tricky.

Andrew ordered an Amazon Echo recently (with the idea that we could call down to the basement (using the Dot) rather than run down two flights of stairs every time we wanted to call the kids up), I think on Prime Day, and we've had fun figuring out the Alexa program. He got a few lightbulbs for our room so we're rather high tech now, though we sometimes forget about Alexa and use the light switch (like barbarians).

With the switch in the on position, Alexa can turn the lights on or off or dim them to whatever percentage you'd desire. You simply have to say, "Alexa, turn on the light," or "Alexa, turn off the light," or "Alexa, dim the light to 50%," or "Alexa, turn on the nightlight," (which is the dimmest the light can go without being off).

Alexa will also tell you a joke or a story or the time, she'll play word games with you, suggest exercise routines, play music, set timers, look up information on any given topic, and so forth. You just have to say, "Alexa..." and then ask her to do...whatever.

Zoë has caught onto this and is always trying to order Alexa around. Unfortunately Alexa can't understand Zoë, which Zoë finds frustrating (unless she parrots me so quickly that it feels like Alexa was listening to her instead of to me).

"Alexa, turn on the light," I'll say.

"Exa, 'ight on!" Zoë will say. "'Kay?"

And Alexa will say, "Okay," and do our bidding...unless the light switch is in the off position, that is.

If the light switch is in the off position you stand there in the dark like an idiot, calling out, "Alexa, turn on the light."

"Okay," Alexa will reply.

But, of course, nothing will happen, so you'll try again.

"Alexa, turn on the light."

"Okay," she'll say again, but the lights won't go on.

Soon you'll start talking to her like she's misbehaving on purpose (petulant robot). You'll raise your voice a little and speak extra clearly.

"Alexa: Turn. The. Light. ON."

"Okay," she'll say compliantly but still nothing will happen.

But there's no way you're going to back down now. You will battle this computer until you beat it into submission. It's the principle of the thing—man versus machine!

"ALEXA! TURN. ON. THE. LIGHT."

"Okay," she'll cheerfully respond, with no change in ambient lighting.

It's around then that you'll realize you're standing in a dark room, practically yelling at a machine for not doing its job when you are the one who cut off its ability to perform its task. You were the dolt who used the switch to turn off the light, rather than asking Alexa to do it for you. It's all your fault.

Old habits die hard; futuristic living isn't all its cracked up to be.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I had gone into the bedroom to grab something and Zoë had trailed along behind me.

"Alexa, turn on the light," I requested, not noticing the switch was off.

"Exa, 'ight on, kay?" Zoë quickly added (she always says, "'kay?" when addressing Alexa, I think because Alexa always responds with...)

"Okay."

But nothing happened.

"Alexa," I said, trying to speak clearer and louder since it still hadn't dawned on me that the switch was off. "Turn on the light."

"Exa, 'ight on, kay?" Zoë said.

"Okay," Alexa said without doing anything.

Then before I could chastise Alexa (and about when I realized the light switch must be off), Zoë sighed exasperatedly and said, "Exa, 'till gark!" (Roughly translated, that's, "Alexa, it's still dark!")

I love getting to watch/listen to my children learn language. It's fascinating and such a joy!

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