Monday, July 17, 2006

mastery of our mother tongue

Now that David knows enough words to work for the state, he is beginning the lifelong journey of learning all the wonderful ways he can put those words together to create meaning. We all know that grammar ain't easy and anyone who knows me knows that this post is about to digress to a discussion of English grammar that has nothing to do with David.

I've heard some say that English is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. Actually, linguists put it somewhere in the middle of the worlds' languages when measuring difficulty. One of the many reasons that English is both easier and more difficult than other languages is that one can play loose and fast with its grammar and still produce meaning. One does not have to get it "right" to be understood, which makes many of the rules defining what is truly "right" a little elusive, which brings me back to David. He is usually able to convey meaning, while also butchering standard grammar--which is adorable.

"He/him/his" vs. "She/her/hers" poses a real problem. This is not strictly grammar. Firstly, I have no idea how good his grasp of gender is. Secondly, he just doesn't seem to understand why one word is better than another if I know what he means. He usually defaults to "he" and regularly refers to his mother that way.

Past tense: he understands regular past-tense construction and applies it to all verbs and some adverbs as in "I fall downded"

Yesterday, I thought our friends had arrived early for a visit but I was mistaken. David was anxious to see them and put out by my mistake. "Is they are not here yet?"

I relish in the adorableness of it knowing that the persistent, nagging correction of his speech throughout his life will turn him into someone who can talk real good. Additionally, teaching him turns of phrase like "whilst supping cold plum porridge" helps immensely. I can't wait for the day he says something like, "I fall downed whilst supping waisins."

later, grammar fans

No comments: