Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More vocabulary observations

In the interest of not losing track of cute words, here's the latest collection. As Grace's vocabulary expands, this becomes more and more ridiculous, but it still bothers me every time I forget one of these peculiarities, so I thought I'd write them down and share them with the world.

Oddball words on the way out
eat [eet] - until recently used for all consumption (eating/drinking/etc)
drink [nink] - a recent innovation, which made me sad because "mine eat apple juice" was so cute.
noodle [doodle] - alas, she is now beginning to pronounce this [noodle] and yesterday even did a rare self-correction (I blame daycare!) -- "no doodle, noodle!"

barefoot [bay-uh-foot]

Groupings & Family
nuclear family - mine, baby, daddy, mommy [often repeated, as with counting, with repetition, as in "mine, mommy, daddy, baby, mine, mommy, daddy"]
funny names for family and friends - people with cute babies don't get named in their own right. So, her cousin "Liam" dominates that whole family's naming ("baby liam / baby liam mommy / baby liam daddy"). The same is true with our friend's with a baby named Jack ("baby jack" / "baby jack mommy" / "baby jack daddy"). Even better, our friend Sam is tall, slender and wears glasses, like her uncle Dave, so he is called "Sam-Dave" to differentiate him from the real "Dave-Dave" (she refused to call him "Sam", perhaps because her best friend is named "Sam" already).
Caroline (her aunt) - this used to pronounced something like [ladalada] but is now a much more standard [ka-line].
Grampy (maternal grandfather) - this used to be prononuced like [ladaladala], in imitation of a funny noise Grampy made. Now, alas, just [gam-py]
rooms & spaces: living room [liwing room], my room, my bathroom, mommydaddy room, mommydaddy bathroom, laundry room; baby jack school, baby room, mine new classroom, mine old classroom; mimi grampa house, moose,

Speech acts
thank you - recently used in public for the first time
no thank you - recently used to scold herself for pushing daddy [no thank you mine!]

Olympic vocabulary
ice skating, skates, ice princess, pink tutu
skiing, hockey - usually used just to say something like "No skiing, ice skating!"
mine skates off!
- Grace has internalized the important fact that when sitting down after "iceskating" around the living room, one must first take skates off.

The rules of skiing according to Grace: stay blue lines no fall [tay boo liniz no fall] (the rules of skiing, according to Grace)

Cute Phrases
nice try
- used when Mommy tries to pull a fast one.
rack them up - used in pool (more commonly she says the less interesting: "mine put balls in triangle").
nice break - used in pool; overgeneralized for any good shot, not just a break.
talking cat - as in "Mine talking cat"
mine eyes still open! - used at bedtime, to mock us.
mine side/your side - as in, "This mine side, daddy. Get your own side!"
make room - As in "Mommy sit next me, mine make room!"
naked baby - used for all nudity, regardless of age (Clara naked baby / mine naked baby / daddy naked baby).

Grammatical endings
plural marker - [iz] as in "mine more fishiz please"

participle- [
ing] (as in "talking cat")
progressive marker - [
ing] (used without copula, as in "mine playing")
third person singular ending - [iz] (as in "mommy poopiz, daddy poopiz, clara poopiz, mine poop too!")

Poems/Ritual sequences
counting - 1-5 consistently, plus numbers up into the twenties, often in incorrect sequences or with favorite sequences repeated (8, 9, 12, 13, 8, 9, 8, 9, 14, 18, 5, 6, 8, 9, etc.).

abc's -- she now has the vast majority of the song down (entertainingly, the first part she mastered was "Now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me" -- it's taken her longer to actually know her ABCs).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Grace learns "play with"

One reason to blog the oddities of Gracese is that I know they are all destined to die as her little language engine gradually falls into step with all the other little language engines of her generation and produces something more or less identical to my own standard English (with whatever generational quirks her generation comes up with to irk mine, of course).

Over the last two days or so, it's become clear that one of my favorite features of Gracese is moribund or already dead. My favorite feature was Grace's unusual use of "Play" as a transitive verb meaning to have fun with e.g. a toy. Note that normally "play" in this sense is intransitive, whereas play's transitivity is reserved for the meanings of playing an instrument or a game.

Grace, alas, now says "play with." Luckily, this too is not without some charm... I'm not 100% positive, but I'm pretty sure I heard her say "Mine play-with-ing it" the other day :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How do you say "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" in linguisticsese?

Today, Grace wanted to go to sleep "camped out" on her bedroom floor. She then decided the whole family should come, and she moved over for me. This was a remarkable event -- usually when Grace comes to our bed she takes over my side and insists that I sleep on the bottom of the bed (I don't actually give in to this demand, for what it's worth). Thus, Grace thought that her moving over tonight was worth repeated comment, which made it pretty easy to tell what she was saying:

"Mine moved over daddy" (standardized spelling).

Which means: "I moved over for daddy"

Which she pronounced, roughly: "mine mov-uhduh ovuh daddy"

This would be the first regular past tense I've definitely observed in Gracese!

What's particularly cool is that her pronunciation of "-ed" looks a heck of a lot like her pronunciation of "did", which is one of the (albeit disputed) theories of the origin of the suffix in English (see Paraphrastic Theory of Origin here). Regardless of the similarity to "did", her pronunciation does look more like Old English weak verb endings (-ede and -ode) than like modern English.

You might think "uhduh" was a word for something like "for", which we would expect in her sentence ("I moved over ____ Daddy"), but as far as I can tell, Grace only has a subset of the prepositions (up, on, down, over etc.) which she tends to use on their own as verbs or as so-called "prepositional verbs". She omits the prepositions "for", "to" and "with" everywhere we would expect them. So, you can analyze this sentence (and countless others like it) either with "Daddy" being in something like a dative case or with "move/move over" having a slightly different semantics in her language (with similar usage to a phrase like "give into"). Other verbs with interesting semantics in Gracese are "play", which is used transitively in the play-with-toys sense, whereas in standard English the transitive play is only used for the play-an-instrument sense. This is a particularly charming one since it comes up hundreds of times a day ("Mine play it", "Mine play those", "Mine play it more right now", "Daddy play it too right now", etc.).

The other reason I'm thinking this new "uhduh" is a past tense suffix is that I've been watching her engage more with the past tense (as a concept) over the past month or so. On other nights, for example, I've noticed her self-correcting to get irregular past tense verbs right. For example, the other night when Katharine worked late and then made a much-celebrated return home at bedtime, we kept retelling the story of "mommy come home." On the thirtieth retelling or so, Grace switched over to "mommy came home" (pronounced something like "Mommy tame home", since she still doesn't really have a "k" sound). The point being she definitely understands the concept of past tense verbs.

Of course, the proof will be when she first produces the sentence "Mommy come-uhduh home" (with the newly mastered ending overriding the correct irregular form) which I am eagerly looking forward to!