Sunday, August 27, 2006

How Joseph talks like a Frenchman

Joseph is at the fun age where he can make his own sentences. Along with this comes the learning of grammar rules and fun mistakes that only a kid first learning to talk can make (or, I guess a foreigner learning another language – after all, the mistakes are sometimes different, but it really is the same thing). I was looking forward to this age, because it really is fascinating to see how it all eventually comes together. However, I guess I was surprised to hear some of the miscommunications. Sure, there is the addition of “-ed” to form the past tense of irregular verbs (“Daddy goed in the Escort.”) Or the misuse of pronouns (“Her is on the bike.”) Those are obviously going to happen when figuring out and generalizing rules. But I was surprised (and amused) to hear some others. The one that surprised me the most was the confusion of the present tense “have” vs. “having.” (“Daddy is having the spoon.”) In French there is no distinction between the two. As my former students will remember from French 1, “Je parle” translates to “I speak” or “I am speaking” or “I do speak.” How odd that Joseph seems to be hardwired to speak like a little European. Or maybe we are all hardwired to use that grammar. I wonder why we make the distinction in English anyway. I’m sure Noam Chomsky studied his children like little linguistic lab rats.

Of course, that’s not the only mistake of Joseph’s that I find amusing. Some other cute little errors of interest:

** He uses the word “from” every time he wants to say “for.” For example, as he hands me something, he will say, “This is from Mommy.” Or earlier today he said, “That car seat is too small from Joseph.”

** We often hear him say “I forgot.” He thinks it means something specific, although I’m not quite sure what it is. He might say, “Aw man! I forgot that block.” But if you were aware of the context, you would be able to see that he doesn’t really mean that he forgot it.

** The word “crooked” also has some kind of special meaning to him. I think it means “not quite right.” He says that many things are crooked. Some really are. Some aren’t. The best was the other day when Tony was playing one of his songs on the computer. Joseph REALLY didn’t like it. He kept saying, “Get it off!” After Tony finally turned it off, Joseph, with tears in his eyes said, “Man, those drums are crooked!”

I wish I could go around with a tape recorder all day long so I wouldn’t forget all of these things he says. I mean to write them down (and sometimes I do), but there are just so many of them. I swear that I’ll remember them so I can at least tell someone, but by the end of the day I usually forget. As Joseph would agree—too bad it’s so hard from me to remember. That’s crooked!

Friday, August 11, 2006


I was trying to avoid word verification on my blog. But sadly I have been receiving quite a bit of spam lately. So sorry for making everyone type nonsense words in order to comment. I hope to still hear from people!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bob the Dull Builder

I’ve come to the realization that I have absolutely no idea how to play with boy’s toys. The imagination just isn’t there. I’m not quite sure what you are supposed to do with a truck after you have pushed it back and forth across the carpet a couple of times. And ask Tony, I am horrible at making any kind of sound effect.

Joseph has a little “Bob the Builder” workshop that he absolutely loves, but I can only play with it for a couple of minutes at a time. After that, I’m out of ideas. What is Bob supposed to do??? I know that he is supposed to build things, but unless you keep buying expansion packs of click bricks, he doesn’t really have much to work with. You can’t comb his hair or even change his outfits. He just stands there. And when I make him talk I have the habit of making him have a high-pitched cartoonish voice anyway. How masculine is that? I’ve checked the manuals (by which I mean all of the “Bob the Builder” and truck books I can get my hands on from our local library), and they seem to help a little. I rip off lines from those books like teenagers rip off movie lines. It gets me by.

Who knows, maybe if I end up playing with girl’s toys when Renée gets older, I’ll find out that it’s not about girl vs. boy, it’s more about the fact that I’m a boring adult. But in the meantime I’ll blame it on gender. Until then, if you have any brilliant ideas or insight, I’m waiting for your advice.