Ay, Au, Uy & Other Things Bilingual Kids Say

He’s still at that age where we have to remind him, or should I say fight with him about things like: Hey go to bed! Clean your room!  Turn off that television!  No more Netflix!  Get up, time to go to school!  Or what all our parents had to do at one point or another – no se hagan you know you’re parents did it too – yell from across the house, or at the door of the restroom, ¡ey bañate bien!  ¡echate champu en la cabeza!

things bilingual kids say
Things bilingual kids say.

Just to make sure, or maybe only because my parents did it to me, sometimes I’ll walk in and reiterate the message ¿te echaste champu?  ¡tallate bien… eh!  And what I’ve noticed lately is when I do this now, Edgar responds ¡Ay!  As if being physically harmed in some way, though he’s not.

It made me laugh the first time I noticed this because that’s what I always say when something is uncomfortable, unnerving, awkward or embarrassing to me too!  ¡Ay…!  But at a very slow speed so as to emphasize the lack of words in my head, or the biting of my own tongue, to really express what it is that I would like to say.


Some of the other words that are pretty common in our bilingual/bicultural household, to my surprise and orgullo, including Edgar’s, are:

¡Au! – used to express pain or discomfort.

¡Uy! – used to express or imply fear.

¡Ey! – used to command or demand attention

¿Eh? – most commonly used in place of “what?”

¡Ah! – used to express confusion or misunderstanding.

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