How to speak toddler

Tibbons is developing a firm grasp of the English language.

Tibbons is developing a firm grasp of the English language. Doubtless he'll soon be writing this column - or one of his own.

In the meantime, while he hones his new speaking skills, I've been learning how to talk toddler.

A number of principles seem to underlie this rudimentary language. Firstly, don't use more words than absolutely necessary to get your point across. So 'I'd really like some more water to drink, please,' becomes simply 'more' or 'drink'.

Secondly, if you need to add emphasis or a sense of urgency give repetition and an increase in volume a try. The latter is hard to convey in writing, but it goes something like this: 'More' 'More!' and finally 'Mooore!!'.

It gets the job done, let me tell you.

Another feature of talking toddler you need to understand, if you're going to pass as a native speaker, is that objects can be referred to by sounds or associated characteristics as well as their proper names. Or, of course, you can alternate between the two - which has the added benefit of keeping your conversation partner on their toes.

For instance, duck can be 'Quack' or 'Du[ck]' and pigeon can be 'Bird' or 'Beak!' It's really quite a creative concept - one you might want to try in adult conversation, if things need livening up a bit. Which they probably do, if you're talking about pigeons.

Finally, if you or your conversation partner don't have the words, don't be afraid to babble away in a sing-song tone. Your friend might not know what you're talking about, but they'll be too worried about hurting your feelings to question the meaning of your stream of sound.

Failing that, pointing works a treat.

And if it's something that you want, then point, smile and look up expectantly at the person you're asking. No words required.