Like any new experience, parenting is adding new words to my vocabulary. Take “threenager”, for example. Up until two months ago, I didn’t know someone had coined this portmanteau, and that it was actually in common use in parenting blogs.
The revelation started with an observation about my daughter D–‘s current developmental stage. D– has always been quite expressive and her vocabulary pickup has been fast. Owing to this, her “terrible twos” were mitigated somewhat, because she didn’t have to suffer from the frustration of the inability to communicate.
Along with observing our daughter D–‘s developing language skills, I’ve also tried to keep an open ear to how my wife E– and I were talking to her. I’m happy to say we’ve largely avoided the trap of the cutesy infantile babbling, though — who knows? — that may largely be a myth. We’ve tried to make it a point to speak to D– in as straightforward a manner as possible.
Still, I can’t help but notice the little alterations that make their way into our speech when speaking with D–. When she was younger, we’ve tended to drop articles “the” and “a/an” when referring to objects. Similarly, we tended to avoid pronouns, sticking instead to just names. Example: “Mama will give D– ball, okay?”
I started getting more invested in language in 2014 when I set out to self-learn Spanish. My tool of choice was Duolingo, which featured a variety of exercises and has continued to evolve since then. Seven years later, I’m able to follow basic conversations and understand simple articles, but my speaking skills are practically nonexistent.
The arrival of my daughter D– gave me a chance to see how a child learns language. There’s a common trope that children pick up language faster than adults. Could that be true? Compared to other children I’ve dealt with at her age, D– seemed quite advanced in vocabulary and sentence construction.