From the mouths of babes . . .

I got to spend an evening with my niece and two nephews this past weekend. Of course, they are all amazingly intelligent and advanced for their ages. I drove the older two (ages seven and eight) to an ice cream parlor and we had a fantastic conversation on the way. It made me think about how children learn about language. Some of it is through actual instruction, but a lot is through observation.

Jesse, the 7-year-old was telling me that it’s a law for him to wear a helmet if he rides on a four-wheeler. “It used to be a rule, but now it’s a law,” he said. So I asked Jesse and his older sister Hannah what the difference is between a rule and a law. They explained that if you break a law, you go to jail. If you break a rule you just get in trouble, but you might die. We agreed that by that definition breaking a rule might be worse.

At another point, we were talking about having to take medicine. Both children have often had to take a liquid antibiotic that apparently tastes pretty awful. Hannah said, “I used to think ‘liquid’ meant something that tastes bad. Now I know it means something like water.” How amazing is that? She developed a definition based on her personal context. I just wonder if she ever said, “This spinach is liquid!”

We take language for granted. It’s so much fun to see it taking shape in the next generation.

2 thoughts on “From the mouths of babes . . .

  1. This brings back memories of many “conversations” with the girls. I loved to have long talks with them when they stayed weeks with me in the summer. I remember one morning at breakfast when Alex (age 4 or 5) told me she knew God answered prayers. When I asked , “How?”, she said she’d prayed He’d make the terrible storm (during the night before) stop, …. He did it!!

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