Babies, Puppies, and Babbling

In Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, he includes a short essay on the joy of seeing a baby. While on a plane, he adorably describes how he spotted a toddler that “toddled” past him dressed in a pink onesie and a panda hood. Throughout the rest of this piece, which covers only two pages in his book, he continues to describe the toddler with delightful imagery, such as calling her a “remarkably postured little creature” and a “munchkin.” Gay also explores how the people around her, who are all immersed in her cuteness, all seem to make baby noises toward her. It is noted that the man in front of Gay on the plane spoke a different language; however, Gay notes that this man still made the same babbling noises towards the baby, making Gay contemplate if there is a universal language that one could call baby talk. 

This “delight” really stood out for me because of the endearing nature of the imagery. While reading the piece, I could not help but think of what I find to be the cutest thing in the world, a puppy. Yesterday, actually, I walked by an old man with not only an old Corgi at his feet but also a precious Australian Shepherd with crystal blue eyes sitting in his lap. The pup even made eye contact with me, striking the same sense of endearment into my chest that I felt while reading Gay’s “delight” about the airplane toddler.

And lastly, besides Gay’s use of language, Gay’s examination of the nature of language was quite fascinating. As someone who has focused his undergraduate career on the study of Latin, Greek, and English, linguistics really draws my attention. So, while reading how Gay meditates on the “universalish” nature of baby talk, and perhaps of the influence of baby talk, I too wondered what might objectively qualify as baby talk. I do not have a definitive answer now, but I think that is what makes Gay’s book so fascinating: he too does not have the answer, and he isn’t asking you for one either, he simply just shares what delightful moments in his life might bring delight into our own. 

One Response to Babies, Puppies, and Babbling

  1. Prof VZ January 29, 2023 at 6:52 pm #

    Thanks for the reflection here: definitely puppies on the sidewalk and babies on an airplane are the two most community-building entities in existence, defying all difference and language. Funny how such small things can draw us out and draw us together at times. Also funny how this delight about babies on a plane is written in earnest obliviousness of the common complaint of babies crying on planes, getting changed on the seat next to you on planes, etc.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes

Skip to toolbar