miércoles, 14 de diciembre de 2011

Spring has Sprung!

We spent September in Scotland with our son Jamie and both sets of his grandparents. And about a month after coming back something incredible happened: Jamie started speaking. 

Not just ready-made chunks, not just repeating, not just chanting and singing fragments. Real speech appropriate to its context:

Are you going to work, Pappy?
Don't want to sleep.
No me pones la chaqueta, mami.
Where the big football?
Pappy, have you got shoes?
Want to go to Santiago with you.
Blas me tiró en el charco. (Blas is a dog.)

...and my favourite -

Give me the... (pause) ... I don't know the name.


Two things stand out:

He's started asking us questions - that's completely new.

He now seems to be able to distinguish reality from imagination. He'll tell you something that sounds false, I'll say "Really?", and he'll smile and go "Nooo!"

I wonder which neurons have learned to talk to each other in his little head. Wouldn't it be amazing to spend ten minutes in his head?

I can't help using David Warr's great metaphor for language: Little bits of undifferentiated tissue have suddenly turned into stems and roots and leaves and flowers. He has flourished. 

Steven Pinker dedicates The Language Instinct to his parents, who "gave me life and language." What a gift - free to give and priceless to receive.

He still pees his pants occasionally though ;) Words come before wee, I guess.

3 comentarios:

  1. This is so amazing. Also think it's so cool that he has started with English and Spanish. I remember the granddaughter of a guy I knew in Spain (in Coruña, actually) who had a Spanish father and an English speaking mother. The mum would always speak to her daughter in English, but she'd always reply using Spanish. Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. That is, until relatives (English speaking ones) arrived for a visit and boom, suddenly the daughter started speaking English!

  2. Coruna, eh? Very near home.

    I agree totally about the visit. Just goes to show how socially driven the acquisition of L1 is. Wonder how we can harness that in class...

    (Excuse the lack of tilde over the 'n' I'm on a UK keyboard.)

  3. Better late than never, and having seen and experienced Jamie first-hand before Christmas, a heart-warming post indeed.