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Strange question: I don't know if onomatopoeia are said to have a proper etymology as such, but I was wondering if anyone knows the approximate first usage of the babytalk phrase goo goo ga ga?

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    Goo-goo (without ga-ga) as a representation of baby talk is at least as early as 1863 in Harper's magazine, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The same dictionary defines ga-ga as a senile person. I don't know when the two sounds were first used together. – Arm the good guys in America Oct 7 '17 at 2:23
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The onomatopoeic goo-goo-ga-ga appears to be the combination of two imitative expression of babbling talking. Goo-goo has an older origin, from the mid 19th century while ga-ga, which may derive from French, is from the early 20th century:

Goo goo:

  • Infantile; cooing : talking goo-goo talk to her, like you would to a baby (1863+)

(The Dictionary of American Slang)

Wiktionary suggests an alternative origin:

  • Possibly from the Tagalog gugus, "tutelary spirit." Adapted as an ethnic slur by American troops during the Filipino-American War

Ga-ga: adj.

  • "crazy, silly," 1920, probably from French gaga "senile, foolish," probably imitative of meaningless babbling.

(Collins Dictionary)

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    I wonder if goo-goo is a universal thing. Do Chinese parents say goo-goo to their babies as well, for example? – iMerchant Oct 7 '17 at 8:44

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