One of Mr. T’s first words was ‘blue‘. This is hardly surprising as my football team back in the UK, Birmingham City, are nicknamed Blues. I am certain that this is due to the fact that they play in blue rather than a near-lifetime of giving me the blues. Whatever, the reason, I made sure he was exposed to the name for the colour very early on in his life with songs and chants that it was almost inevitable that it would be one of his earliest words.
Since then, other colour words have been very slow coming. He will say ‘red’ and has something approaching ‘black’ but sounds more like ‘ba‘. He has a word for ‘white’ that is similar to the English, and he knows the word ‘orange’, but only in the context of ‘The Gruffalo’.
The interesting thing is that all the colour words he uses are English ones. Our theory for why this should be so is the mere fact that the English words are generally a lot shorter and easier to say; compare ‘red’ with its Portuguese equivalent of ‘vermelho‘.
He understands most other colour words, in both English or Portuguese, he just hasn’t got around to remembering how to say them. To get around this he has devised a cunning strategy.
Yesterday evening I picked him up from school and the teacher had drawn an alligator on his hand, or a ‘jacaré‘ as it is known in Portuguese and to Mr. T. The jacaré was green so I asked him what colour it was and he looked at it for a bit and then proudly declared ‘Not blue!’