Language and thought

Lillian seems to be in the phase where her grasp of language, and concomitant conceptual sophistication, is mushrooming.  A few snippets:

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We’re riding past the gym on campus.  Normally she says “That’s Mummy’s gym!”  This time she says

“Daddy, how do you spell “gym”?

I say “g…y…m”.

“g-y-m…g-y-m…g-y-m” she sings.

Then she continues: “What does this spell?  l..y..p..d..m..a..s..m..g..y..m”

“Well, that’s a silly way to spell “gym”.

“What about this: x..p..d..l..m..o..l..m..g..y..m….?”

We’ve played this game before.  It’s not that interesting anymore.  I say “That spells “rubbish.”

“Daddy! Tell Mummy that I can spell “rubbish”!”

A bit later, she comes back to this game.  “What does this spell? b..d……”

“That spells “silly”.”

“DON’T YOU SAY SILLY!  I WANT TO SPELL MY OWN WORDS!”

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Out of the blue: “Daddy, “fragile” means really breakable, doesn’t it?”

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A few weeks back, I was trying to explain what “fib” means and she didn’t quite get it.

Today, we’re reading a story called “Whoops but it wasn’t me.”  During the story, one of the characters tells a fib.

Lillian says: “She told a fib, didn’t she.  Because she said she didn’t break the rocket, but she did, didn’t she.”

[Technical aside: the current issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science has an article called “The Function of Fiction is the Abstraction and Simulation of Social Experience.” That seems a good description of what goes on in the reading of children’s stories.]

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