Awaiting Binary Communication

This is part of a series of blog posts that is inspired by our baby daughter, Miru.

baby101Every infant starts out in this world with a one-word vocabulary, the content of which we (from the perspective of our infinitely nuanced expressive apparatus) then interpret as crying. I don’t know how the baby herself experiences the crying, but let’s assume she does it to express her evolving desires. At first, she cries for milk; then she cries because she wet her diaper; then she cries for attention and a hug. But all is expressed in the same cry, that we have to decipher by first touching her lips to see if she is hungry, then checking the diaper, and finally hold her and pat her on the back. With a unary language, she is not able to express anything beyond the basic fact of her longing, which is the fact that she is alive.

Soon, that will all change. We know that the first smiles are simply reflexes of her parent’s and grandparent’s friendly grimaces inserted into her crib, and reflexes are no language. So I am awaiting the moment when she begins to smile spontaneously, for that would mean that she has invented her second word, and moved into the realm of binary communication. In theory, she would be able to express everything.

1-0-1-1-0-0-1 cry-smile-cry-cry-smile-smile-cry.

Luckily, she won’t have to revert to this Morse-style communication, as she would have invented many more words by the time she feels the need to express concepts that require multiple digits. What she will be able to do with her newly found binary alphabet however, is to give her parents positive feedback as well as negative feedback, which, I am sure, will boost their morale.

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