Language

It is always interesting the watch (listen?) as my daughter’s language skills continue to develop. It really helps you see how the English language can be a little messed up. The one thing my daughter seems to struggle with the most is the past tense.

Early on, she was able to pick up the adding of -ed to verbs to make them the past tense. Which is great 90% of the time. But it also leads to a lot of “I knowed” and “he runned”. One thing I’ve always tried to do is to passively correct her. I will repeat the word back to her the correct way – “Oh, you knew that?” or “He ran where?”, etc.

I don’t know if this is the right way to do it, but I know she isn’t actively trying to do anything wrong, so I feel better “guiding” her to the correct way of saying these thing.

The thing I love most about her growing language skills is the way her mind puts things together. This process makes for some cute results, such as:

  • My daughter calls her big toe the “thumb toe”
  • We were playing with her dolls the other day, and she made me make the child doll run away. The mother dolls warned that if the child doll ran away, she might “die to death”
  • And last night, she told Ms. Kaz that she had an itch, and when Ms. Kaz asked where, she said in her “knee underarm”

There are other examples, but these are a few that stick out in my mind…

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2 Responses to Language

  1. Those are awesome. 3B’s come up with several of those too, but I never have the presence of mind to write them down.

  2. Jennie W. says:

    Actually your daughter is doing exactly the right thing developmentally. She is learning that there are patterns in language, and she is following the patterns that she knows. Of course, she gets tripped up by irregular verbs because she doesn’t know that they are irregular. She is just applying the known pattern to new words. I was an English teacher in a former life and have taken many classes on linguistics, language development, and early reading. We encourage children to use the patterns they know because, as you said, they are correct about 90% of the time. For the other 10%, correcting them passively, like you did, is fine: repeating what they said using the correct form. You could also point out that the word is a little different and doesn’t follow the usual rule but that she did a good job of following the pattern. There is no way to “teach” irregular verbs or anything else that is irregular about the English language. Kids just have to memorize the irregularities.

    So don’t worry! She’s doing fine, and her pop is doing a great job too!

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