toddler linguistics

Heteronormativity ahoy

Scene: I was taking the for a haircut, and we happened to pass a church that was ringing for matins. He asked why the bell was ringing, and misheard ‘matins’ as the name of one of his friends who moved to Cambridge last year (who I shall refer to as M). The important thing to note is that M is the child of a lesbian couple. : Where M? : M’s in Cambridge. : Why M in Cambridge? : Because his mummies got jobs in Cambridge. : What about him daddy? : I don’t know – M lives with his… Read More »Heteronormativity ahoy

Toddler for hire

Bumped into while waiting for the bus with and the after work today. Cue the following conversation after Dave left: Why that ? Well, that’s his name. Where is going? He’s on his way home to see . Why? Because he’s ‘s boyfriend! Why he ‘s boyfriend? Because they like each other a lot. That’s why they live together. *nods sagely* I think they need a boy. Pardon? I think they need a boy. What kind of boy? A little boy, like you? Yes. They need a little boy like me.

Per Toddler Ad Astra

*reads article about the X-37B *looks over shoulder at pictures* That rocket not for people. That’s right, it’s an unmanned spacecraft. That rocket not for people because it not got a toilet. o_O

Toddler Linguistics, part the nth

An account of a conversation while waiting at bus stop with and the : My1 like coiley-wotey. What’s coiley-wotey? Coiley-wotey! Colley Wotty? Coiley-wotey! What sort of a thing is coiley-wotey! *pause* Coiley-wotey! He’s making this word up. Are you making this word up? Is this another silly word? No, coiley-wotey! How big is coiley-wotey? *looks confused* Is coiley-wotey big or small? Coiley-wotey! He’s just saying that! Stop saying that! *has flash of inspiration* What colour is coiley-wotey? Grey. *thinks* What sort of animal is coiley-wotey? He a woof, chase roadroader. Roadroader goes beep-beep! Aha! He’s a wolf! You’re talking about… Read More »Toddler Linguistics, part the nth

Conversations with toddlers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hprimates

recounted a conversation that had with Thea, on the subject of apes and monkeys, which got me browsing aimlessly through Wikipedia. I came across an article on Yerkish, an artificial language designed in the 1970s for use by non-human primates, principally chimpanzees. Yerkish has a vocabulary of symbols (lexigrams) which are used to label buttons on a keyboard, and has a relatively complex grammar. The paper referenced in the Wikipedia article (a scan of a microfiche version of a typed paper original) has an appendix of conversations with Lana (the first chimpanzee to have learned Yerkish) that were so close… Read More »Conversations with toddlers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hprimates

The Garklet Lexicon

The words have been coming thick and fast, and it’s been quite a while since I last tried to list his vocabulary, so this is not going to be an exhaustive effort. In general, his spoken vocabulary is less than half the size of his understood vocabulary, and he’s adding 5-10 new spoken words a week at the moment. Words he knows: Most of his body parts, although he has a tendency to get ‘cheeks’ mixed up with ‘chicks’. He also has the alarming habit of poking himself in the eye whenever he says ‘eye. Clothes. He says ‘shoes’, ‘socks’… Read More »The Garklet Lexicon

The Garklet Lexicon #2

A few updates since last time: dog A dog. After an enjoyable cream tea at the Station House in Burley last weekend, he’s finally worked out that not all furry quadrupeds are cats. This was helped by the three dogs that were sitting near us – after about an hour of ‘no, that’s a dog’, he seemed to get the difference. This is of course a phenomenally interesting thing to have happened; I teach my students about various concept learning algorithms, and it’s great to see the young lad starting to compete with the cutting edge of 1980s AI. sboo… Read More »The Garklet Lexicon #2

The Garklet Lexicon

Up rather early this morning with the sound of a vomiting . Cot disinfected, bathed, and laundry on, and it’s still not yet 7am. Still, at least he’s still cheery. Anyway, as much for our benefit as for yours, here’s the young lad’s current (consistent) vocabulary, as well as we can make it out. gat Any furry, four-legged mammal, most commonly a cat. dak, duk A bird, most commonly a duck. dada Daddy. Or Mummy. Or Alex. Or, in fact, any person. bana Banana. baya A vehicle (including aeroplanes) bala Aeroplane bu-bow Bubble. Or any round, see-through and pretty thing… Read More »The Garklet Lexicon