Babies Can Speak Marathi

Baby’s first words are exciting, something to look forward to. There was a bit of added suspense in our home, will they be English words or Marathi words?

Baby babble is universal, the first sounds and noises every baby makes are similar across the globe. When my son started to produce sounds, I made a really interesting observation. These sounds that we call baby babble in England can be translated into Marathi words, Marathi words for family members along with a couple other words a baby may want to use.

The fact is, I didn’t realise my son had spoken his first recognisable word for weeks because it was a Marathi word…

At-ta” he kept saying, pointing at things he wanted, the family overjoyed at the beautiful little voice. It wasn’t until I thought to ask, I discovered that at-ta,  means “now” in Marathi! Once I knew, I suddenly heard it in conversation all the time.

When baby wants something, he wants it at-ta!

At-ta is the first of many Marathi words my baby will undoubtedly teach me.

Ba-ba means father, da-da means elder brother, aai means mother, for example. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the other “babbles” could be translated too. I will have to start asking more regularly as his sweet little vocabulary grows.

The first time my son looked towards me and shouted “aaiiii“, I was shocked. He was calling me. I refer to myself to him in the traditional English, “Mummy”. I wonder if it is common first call some babies have when searching for their mothers and Marathi people were taking notice.

Mummy is obviously a more complicated word for a baby to say, but who knows, maybe I will be forever known as Aai? I completely understand why people get so excited over linguistics and the origins of words.

It is really fascinating.

We are currently living with my in-laws in a joint family set up, so they speak to him in Marathi while our neighbour’s sons (6 and 11) play with him in Hindi. My sonshine enthusiastically shouts “da-da” when he sees them, along with every other child he meets (male or female, gender irrelevant). My husband and I speak to him in English, along with a couple of Hindi and Marathi songs, as it’s the language we communicate in. We also have a lot of visitors who mostly speak Marathi.

It is lovely to know my child will grow up speaking multiple languages, but I am really looking forward to hearing the first English word. We will be visiting England soon to attend my sister’s wedding, so perhaps England will inspire some English.


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  1. Probably if you will live in England than Rohan’s first word would be english, now he just hear a lot of Marathi and live in India, but I’m sure that soon you will be also Mummy for him ❤ I love this picture, you both look adorable! I don't know what was my first word I even never thought about it, going to call my Mum and ask her, I can bet she even don't remember 😀


  2. Atta means aunt in my language and TaTa means grand father and Dada means big brother. In fact I can assure you relations were named after what babies call it. This is why we, Indians, call people by relations and not names. There is a theory behind this. The first Treatise on language and its systemization is done by panini in Sanskrit (around 600 B.C) when most languages didn’t even have a written script -they had iconography though (see Egyptian script). So, you can expect high standard of literature from a champ with Indian blood in his veins. LOL

    Do record those voices and preserve them for future cos they are invaluable.


    • I believe that. Actually babies love to say “pa” and “ma” too. Probably when there is positive reinforcement by the family, the babies will tell more of some sounds. My tamil husband was upset when our daughter started calling him “papa” (French for “daddy” and Tamil for “baby”). Now at 3 years old, she will say “papa” but also “appa” to her dad, “grand-ma” for her European grand-ma and “Aya” for her tamil grand-ma. Problem is for words which have different meanings in different languages ; “tata” means aunty in French and grand-pa in tamil… Sometimes she speaks a language of her own which non one can understand, I believe scientists call this “inter-language”… Bringing up multilingual kids requires a lot of confidence and patience… on the part of the parents 😉


  3. It’s great your baby grows in multilingual surrounding! Mine speak only English so far – in spite of living in India, everyone in my husband’s family speaks exclusively English. And so do most of the people we communicate with. However, I do try to learn a bit of Hindi and teach them at the same time. Besides, all four of us (me and three kids) are quite enthusiastic about learning Spanish – at least watching “El pero y el gato” together is a lot of fun 🙂 Please keep updating us on your son’s achievements with languages!


    • Spanish is a beautiful language! That’s great! I wish I was better at languages and could introduce a second European one, I’m still struggling with Marathi xx


  4. love love love! 🙂 When we went back to UK for two years I had to explain to my family and the pre-school that Saira only used hindi for some words and what they meant if she asked for things in Hindi. Paani (water) was easy, as was sou sou (wee wee in english) but my poor mother wasn’t quite listening when I explained her words. She babysat for me for a day and when I got home she was in a terrible state and couldn’t understand why Saira had been so upset all day. She said she kept asking for ‘Doo doo’ (in English this is slang for poo) so she kept putting her on the toilet but no poo appeared. She couldn’t work out why I started laughing when she told me this. I explained in Hindi ‘Dude’ is milk and babies, including my daughter, often say du du when they want milk!


  5. Congratulations on the the first words of Rohan. It is such a wonderful feeling when your child utter the first word. We kind of lost out on the whole babbling phase, since my son was hyperactive and his speech got delayed. These are precious moments in every parent’s life. Soon he would tumble his way through the house, with his little legs, which would be another fantastic experience.

    “Aata” (now) reminds me of the famous dialogue from the Bollywood move “Singham” “Aata majhi satakli” (now I have lost it, more like I am angry and pissed off) LOL. This dialogue became famous after the movie.

    BTW I love the half moon sign on the top of the blog similar to the Marathi bindi.


  6. Atta is a first word which most babies say. In our language it means aunt, and the baby’s Aunty gets excited they feel the babies are calling them. The first words are mostly language agnostic


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