Monday, January 11, 2016

The Development of Language

This is Joan Maria, AKA Joma, adorably assisting her grandfather in his culinary experimentation.

Joma is three and a half. She's been a little slow to master the use of vocal language ... or so they say. She certainly understands everything that is said to her, and there have been odd moments when words and sentences come out so clearly that it's amazing. She calls her big sister "Loa" -- but when Bernie teasingly pretended not to know who "Loa" was, Joma said, with a little exasperation, "Lillian." It wasn't that she couldn't say the name, but rather that she had decided for herself to re-christen her sister.

Ask her to say any word, though, and you get silence. At least here at home; her teacher at pre-school speech therapy has no problems with Joma's cooperation. Joma says what and when she wants to.

Bernie and I were hanging out with our grand-daughters a few nights ago. The TV was on, and Bernie wanted Lillian to watch a travel program about Laos with him. He'd recorded it a few weeks earlier, and this was the first chance he'd had to show it to her. Joma was playing with her toy cars on the floor beside him, ignoring the conversations around her.

He thumbed the remote down through the menu of recordings. And then did it again. And again. And then realized that somewhere along the line, he'd deleted the show.

"Dammit!" he said, shaking his fist in the air.

"DAMMIT!" Joma shrieked in merriment, leaping to her feet. "Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit!" She crawled into Bernie's lap, laughing, "Dammit! Dammit-dammit-dammit!"

No difficulties with initial consonants at all. No hesitation about final consonants or middle consonants or the production of vowels, either. What's more, she knew that "Dammit" was an expletive, and thought it hilariously funny to say it.

She hasn't said it since that night; most likely she's saving up that performance for the most shocking and inopportune time. I hope it's not at pre-school ...