"It's not is!"

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I never would have guessed it, but one of the most fun things about having small children is watching their language skills develop, seeing the changes as they learn to parse more of what they hear, as they incorporate new rules into their own speech and assimilate all the special cases and irregularities that we take for granted. And there are those bittersweet moments when they finally get something right, but it means a cute, funny mistake is gone forever.

In the last couple of weeks our little one -- 28 months -- has been adding final consonants. He gives us a very clear "ssss" at the end of words -- often closer to "sssssh." "Yah" has become "yessssh." S with another consonant at the beginning of a word is still elusive. That's been true with all three of ours; I suspect they just don't hear that initial S sound as part of the word but as incidental noise.

Initial S before a vowel is still a voiceless velar fricative -- like the "ch" in the Scottish word "loch" or the initial H in Hanukkah. So before we put on his shoes, he will say, "I nee chhh-ocks and tsoos."

Final T is everywhere, mostly where it doesn't belong, especially after a final N. "I faw downt." (I fall down.) "Dah-ee is a mant." (Daddy is a man.) Train used to be "tsoo-tsoo-wayne," now it's "tsoo-tsoo-waynt." (Also, "int" for "in.")

Tonight, we were talking about the idea of "part" -- your finger is a part of your hand, your hand and your fingers are parts of your body.

I told him that the roof is a part of our house.

"Isss nah a paht!" (It's not a part!)
"Yes, it is."
"Isss nah iz!" (It's not is!)
"Yes, it is."
"Isss nah iz!"

MORE: Some other funny verbalizations:

"Bah-mum" for "bottom."
"Mom-mom" for "mama."
"Ran-ma" for "Grandma."
"gr" for "dr": "Benagrill," "gry" for "dry."


"kr" for "tr": "kruck" for "truck"
He adds an extra "f" to "flower": "flau-fur"
Brother and sister are "Jo-jo" and "Ka-runt."

I finally figured out why he objects so strongly to "a part" -- he's hearing it as "apart" i.e. "not together." So the idea of the roof being apart from the house or his fingers being apart from his hand would be somewhat upsetting.

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meeciteewurkor said:

That is so cute!
My preschooler blew me away the other day.
She said she wanted a "pygmy marmoset" as a pet. Even said the word perfectly. I didn't know what it was and had to look it up!

Kids rule. :)

Natasha said:

I met a two-year-old a few weeks ago whose "yes" sounds more like "huh." I was repeating everything I said to him until his mom finally intervened. Ha!

So, does the language development of each child follow some consistent pattern, like how most babies have that first social smile by 8 weeks, or is each kid totally different? I'll have to look this up - language development would be a really fun thing to study for a living.

"Aaahhhh-Cooooo" - my kiddo, who will be 11 weeks (already!) here in a few days, says that a lot. I'm excited for the more concrete language-learning phase, but I'll be really sad when the cooing is gone...

John Coman said:

I know what you are talking about.

I had a little one that couldn't pronounce the S sound. Very cute to here him say "Snow White", (no white). I once imitated him by saying No White and was quickly correct. "Not No White..., No White.

From "Mum-Mum"
I am sure there are common trends or patterns of learning language, but Child3, our second son, is completely different than his older siblings.

Son1 had all but one or two sounds down by 18 months, and was making short sentences by then. While his sister was a bit harder to understand, she was not far behind. This means that we rarely ever had the "cute little phrases" that our last has come up with. The older two almost came out speaking well. People thought they were brilliant, just because they were very early speakers. It really was fun to find out what was going on in their young heads at such early ages.

Our last - is DIFFERENT in many ways. The first two would ask for food. This one finds a chair and gets it himself - even if the bag ends up all over the floor. "I do it!" We are grateful that his speech has really picked up the last three months. It also has us chuckling a lot.

The latest - he likes to get gas at the gas station. If we say that we don't need any gas, he says "Mum Mum (or Dah-ee) has gas! Yesssh"

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 6, 2008 10:58 PM.

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