Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Language Acquisition

In college I took several hours in Linguistics. I actually took enough hours to get a certificate in linguistics but unfortunately it was before the program was a certified certification program so no gold star on my transcript or diploma for that! All that sentence diagramming for nothing!

I love learning about language and how our words are shaped and why our words are what they are. Often when I'm daydreaming I'll think about different words and what they really mean. Refrigerator has always held a particularly interesting spot in my brain. Some days it just sounds so weird to me. Re-fridge-er-a-tor. Weird. I wonder why we call the refrigerator a refrigerator and not a clock. Why a desk is called a desk...and on and on.

So as Sophie learns new words and meanings for things I am amazed at her language acquisition skills. One day she can only point to what she wants and the next day she has a word for it. For example our after bath routine usually includes Jean Nate (3 syllables Jean Na Te) after bath splash which I roll off my tongue with my best french accent. To Sophie this became "nah nah nah." She can correctly say and identify a car, train, and plane but mistakenly calls all trucks and motorcycles Trains or choo choos.

What is frustrating in this new phase of "semantic development" are the words I can't yet identify. Last night she kept saying "goo goo"-perhaps for the noodles I was preparing? But when I pointed to the noodles that didn't satisfy her need for me to understand "goo goo." On the drive home today she stumped me with "halla." Like she was saying "holla back..." Again, no clue. There are often times I have to ask for a definition from Phillip on new words but he doesn't have answers either.

So each day we will continue to learn and break her codes. For now though, I'll say "ni ni." Sophiease for "night, night."

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I always ask Emery to show me when I can't understand what she is saying. One time when she was staying at my parents, my mom called me in a panic b/c Emery was asking for something and she had no idea what. I told her to put Emery on the phone. She said she wanted "tip." I had no idea either. So I started running through words and figured out she wanted a chip. She was so excited when I figured it out.