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!


Anonymous amy said...

I totally think about you whenever I am having verb trouble. "I eat, I do eat, I am eating." etc.

When my cousin Charlie first started talking he used to say amazing things. One night he saw the crescent moon and asked my aunt what it was. She said that it was a half moon. About a week later they were driving again and during the day and said, "Look in the sky mom, it's a half plane!" because he could only see half of it, like the moon...

Crazy kids :-D

I hope you're not creeped out, I tried to call you sometime last week... I didn't leave a message, because I was kind of scared... I looked you up in the phone book... I found my old French binder and it will be so helpful this year when I am trying to remember verbs and such!

Much love,

12:23 AM  
Blogger TK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:41 PM  
Blogger TK said...

See, I told you you should teach him French.

Funny, I just ordered a grammar book for Joseph. It's never too early, right?

Can't wait to hear this first hand.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous guh! said...

All I know is that joseph makes more sense to me than the lawyers I work with. Whether that's a result of his skill with language, my age, or a commentary on my coworkers, I dare not say.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

I remember it too, too well. :)

Have you come across "La grammaire est une chanson douce" by Erik Orsenna? A girl is shipwrecked on an island during a storm which washes away all of her words. It's much like "The Phantom Tollbooth." My French Lit teacher used it to work on our tense/mood skills. I'd find myself sketching out little diagrams of our verb cards to remind myself which form was which. :)

I bet listening to 2-year-old Joseph 20 years from now would be hilarious and enlightening. I'm lucky enough to have a tape of my mom interviewing me at 2, 4m and 6, and it cracks me up. :)

TK: Now I'm curious. Is it "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" for kids or "The Amazing Pop-Up Grammar Book?"

4:41 PM  
Blogger TK said...

"Eats, Shoots, and Leaves". I tell you, though, Joseph barely needs it. He's so smart.

7:05 PM  

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