Watching my toddler figure out how to language is fascinating. Yesterday we were stumped when he kept insisting there was a ‚ÄúLego winner‚ÄĚ behind his bookshelf - it turned out to be a little Lego trophy cup. Not knowing the word for ‚Äútrophy‚ÄĚ, he‚Äôd extrapolated a word for ‚Äúthing you can win‚ÄĚ. And then, just now, he held up his empty milk container and said, ‚ÄúMummy? It‚Äôs not rubbish. It‚Äôs allowed to be a bottle.‚ÄĚ - meaning, effectively, ‚ÄúI want this. Don‚Äôt throw it away.‚ÄĚ But to an adult ear, there‚Äôs something quite lovely about ‚Äúit‚Äôs allowed to be a bottle,‚ÄĚ as if we‚Äôre acknowledging that the object is entitled to keep its title even in the absence of the original function.
My son was about three when he came to me in the middle of the day and said,¬†‚ÄúMommy, there‚Äôs a knight behind the bush.‚ÄĚ I thought he meant a toy knight or something. So I follow him outside and he goes,¬†‚ÄúListen. Do you hear it? It‚Äôs night behind the bush.‚ÄĚ It was a cricket. A cricket was standing in the little patch of shade under the bush, chirping. So, my son saw this dark area with accompanying nighttime sounds and decided, okay, well, that is a night right there. Their brains are incredible.
My little bean knows she‚Äôs two, constantly saying proudly ‚ÄėI‚Äôm two!‚Äô And the other day she saw this very frail old lady who looked one foot in the grave, pulled a face and said ‚Äėoh shiiiit. She‚Äôs three.‚Äô I almost screamed.
I live in Korea and have a lot of international friends, and the same is true with language barriers in adults.¬†
*Looking at a bowl of pears*¬†‚ÄúCan you please pass me the‚Ä¶ apple‚Äôs friend?‚ÄĚ¬†