the wonder of language

Eddie was a late-ish talker.

His daycare mom taught him a few signs when he was small so he wouldn’t just point and grunt.

Somewhere around age two he finally started saying those words.

At his 2-year Well Child appointment, his pediatrician was slightly concerned that he wasn’t putting more than two words together at any given time.  She wanted me to call her if he wasn’t doing it by the fall.

He wasn’t, but I didn’t call.

By Christmas, he was.

Now at 3 years he talks up a storm.

As in HE NEVER SHUTS UP.

I sort of love it.

I know it’s easy to tune out a chatty child.  To just answer with “mm hmm” and “oh huh” and “yup” every now and then.

I make loads of mistakes in this mom gig, but one thing I pride myself in is listening…really listening…to Eddie.

Everyone told me when I was fretting about his language and speech that soon enough he would be talking my ear off and I would long for the days when he would just make little noises and point.

They were totally wrong.

I love listening to his chatter.  LOVE it.

As in I will stop what I am doing and just sit and listen to him play because oh-my-word-he-is-pretending-and-repeating-big-vocabulary!

His pronunciation is FAR from correct.  He doesn’t say “r’s” at all and all his “L’s” are replaced with the “y” sound.

(side note: this makes him sound like he is from Boston.  It is awesome.)

But oh my.  The things he says.

He retains everything he has heard anyone ever say.

This makes him smart as a whip, but funny as all heck when he all of a sudden repeats something like…

“That is DESPICABLE!” (thank you, Daffy Duck)

“I have a FRICKIN’ HEADACHE!” (oops…my fault)

“Mom, you should wear a tiara and be a princess.” (TRUTH!)

“It’s dangerous to work on a roof.” (yes it is, bud. yes, it is.)

“These books have too many words. I can’t read them.”

“I don’t like fireworks or those shooting guns outside.”

“Oh my goodness sakes.” (clearly we are raising an octogenarian)

“my favorite song is Pearl Jam” (which one? “all of them.”)

He even knows that not everyone can understand what he is saying all of the time.  Proof in this conversation in the car this weekend:

E: Yook mom!  A big Beh-ah.

Me: A big bear?  What? Where?

E: No, mom. DING DONG  a beh-ah. DING DONG!

Me: Oh!  A Big Bell!  Yup, I saw that.

Seriously.  The kid is smart.

If I say something the way he said it to me?  He will correct me…but still not say it right because he can’t.  But he knows if it’s being said wrong.

Because I listen so carefully, I understand his words better than anyone.  I’m looked at with confusion a lot when people want to understand what he is so intently telling them.  I translate often.

Also because I listen so carefully, I am continually intrigued byhow he is learning the English language.

I think this is the language teacher in me. Because I teach both English and Spanish, I am amazed at how people learning a language from scratch as a child starts to use the rules of a language…both correctly and incorrectly.

As Eddie learns to use English, he is not afraid of making mistakes.  He listens as we talk to him and read to him and he tries to use the words he retains.

Nouns are generally easy, as they are for my Spanish students.

Verb tense can get tricky.  He is learning regular verbs easily, but irregulars he will mess up.  For instance he will say, “I falled down.” or “I taked that to daddy.”  The difference between his immersion learning and that of a high schooler in my Spanish class is that he learns by what we say, not by rules that he has to memorize.

I never “correct” him; I only model back the correct use.

So if he tells me, “I taked the book to daddy,” I tell him, “oh, you took that book to daddy?”

Three years old is too young to know about “rules” with words.

The verbs I expected to be incorrect for a while; the thing that amazes me to watch is how he is navigating pronouns.

He will say things like, “no mom. Only I.  Only I will do it.”

It sounds weird, but grammatically?  It is correct.

(side note:  I have pondered starting a grammar blog where I would answer grammar questions weekly.  who’s in?
::crickets::
that’s what I thought.)

Or he will say, “Does baby Charlie have he’s blanket?”

He rarely uses the possessive form other than “mine” (but sometimes he will use I’s).  “his” and “hers” and “ours” and “theirs” are not really part of his vocabulary yet.

He also rarely says “me”.

It’s almost always “I” or occasionally “mine” or “my”.

Ok I realize all of this may be boring to you, but it fascinates me.

I even notice that maybe it is not interesting to Cort who does a far better job of “tuning out” Eddie than I do.  And I don’t blame him for it.  I know Eddie talks a lot. He gets that from his momma.

But language development and learning is amazing to me.

I can still remember lying on the floor with him as an infant and watching with wonder how he just suddenly learned he had hands and that he could control them.

That is how I feel when he talks.  Absolute wonder.

He is learning to make his meaning known to the world.

And he is not afraid to try to use the words he has.

*************

Can you feel the excitement around here?

It’s because this whole week is SLuiTeRPaLooZa on the blog!

My blog turns FIVE on Saturday!

This week I will be treating you with some fun stories of how I got started ’round these parts, and then how I actually found an audience.  They are good stories.  At least to me.

And even though it’s my BLOG’S birthday, I am the one giving away gifts.  Because i LOVE to give stuff when I can.

That’s right, I have some Booty for you (no, not THAT kind of booty, silly.  Like free stuff kind of booty!)

Five giveaways have already been posted on my giveaway page…did you see them?  Go on!  Enter!

BooTY the FiRST is a Thirty-One Utility Bag. (open to US only)

BooTY the SeCoND is a Blog Makeover. (open to the whole world)

BooTY the THiRD is something pretty for your hair. (open to the whole world)

BooTY the FouRTH is a dozen yummy cookies. (0pen to US only)

BooTY the FiFTH is a book of  good reads. (open to US and Canada)

Five more are kicking off today at 9am est…so watch the fanpage for when the go live (that means you should “like” Sluiter Nation, of course).

Party on, Garth.

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