I love the way kids make up their own words for terms they can’t quite understand. Ruth and I used to write down our own kids’ invented words. But I found plenty more through teaching.
On the surface, it’s completely cute, endearing, and very funny. But, when you think about it, there’s a lot of logic being applied behind kids’ verbal creations.
Those who turn around as adults to learn another language will appreciate that approximating is a good sign. It shows that you are getting the hang of the language and you’re making your own calculated guesses.
Kids, of course, do that all the time. “Orm momer” for lawnmower, “pasgetti” for spaghetti, and hobspittle for hospital, reveal that same kind of approach.
For kids, it’s not about being humorous, clever, or even considered. Instead, kids’ talk is spontaneous, in the moment, and on the fly. That’s what makes it even more endearing, because they deliver their gems when you least expect them. I love it.
So, next time you hear a little girl or boy say something incredibly endearing and quirky, remember that they are learning to be proficient in their given language, and will have mastered all the core aspects by the time they are five.
Not only that, but kids do all of this without any formal lesson at all, and most are unable to read. Kind of turns formal education on its head, doesn’t it?
Experts in child learning go as far as saying that by five, kids generally master the equivalent of a double PhD in learning! This innate brilliance is not something that gets much attention, but it should.
There’s no two ways about it: kids are smart. Which makes it a shame that we adults typically dismiss their ability. “Hey they’re just kids whooping around the place. What would they know?” What indeed.
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