Friday, July 07, 2006

Language Acquisition 3

Last week SW and the kids were out of town, taking care of her mother, who was recovering from knee replacement surgery. Last weekend, I flew up to join them and then we drove home together. Now, it was our experience, when Boy was younger, that extended trips away from home - say, about a week away, usually with SW visiting her mother - were almost invariably occasions when he would go through a surge of development. He would learn to walk, or his language skills would suddenly take a quantum jump, or he'd start climbing everything in sight, or something.

Sure enough, while she was away, Girl started putting words into sentences. Now we can actually understand her better than half the time... and without having to know the context she's working from. That is to say, she can come in from the other room and tell me something, and I can figure out what she's saying without knowing that she was playing with her dolls, and so guessing she's saying something relating to the dolls. I can even, occasionally, more or less, understand what she's saying on the phone... though that's a lot harder, of course. (Sometimes I can barely understand what SW is saying on the phone. I guess it's me.)

I should explain the "putting words into sentences" part. Girl, it seems, started with sentences and put words into them. Boy took a much more traditional tack, first learning as many words as he could, and gradually building sentences out of them. His acquisition of words was rather rapacious, though: I have a video of Boy at about 20 months, going through a board book dictionary page by page, pointing at pictures, and demanding, "Saman?" (His babysitter spoke Spanish to him, and "saman?" was his version of "como se llama?")

Girl, on the other hand, first began mimicking what I can only call the music of sentences - repeating sentences she'd heard, only without any clear idea of what any of the individual words meant, or even any notion that there were individual words. And now that she does know words... she's rather abruptly begun speaking in more or less full sentences. Her syntax still needs work, of course, but I really don't recall her having much of a one-or-two-word sentence phase.

Example, please: when Boy was very young and we were driving in the car and he wanted the window up, he would demand, "No wind!" Very clear sentiment, very traditional linguistic development. When Girl wants the car window up, she'll say something like, "Ma pamba pop puh window!"

She's a singer, I guess.


At 9:35 AM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

Or she could be a great politician.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger LawMommy said...

I love this phase of development. I am watching my own 22 month old makes leaps in his language. Its astounding, really.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger LawMama said...

That is so funny. My daughter speaks in "sentences" that usually only include two or three real words (generally a verb and a noun). She can perfectly imitate the length, rhythm and cadence of the actual sentence, but only knows a few of the words. (she's 21 months). Hers go, "dah blu, DAH muh ba baby pool, now."


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