Developing grammar

Thrilling topic, I know, but as a half-baked linguist I am continually fascinated by how my toddler’s language is developing, so I hope you will forgive me a slightly indulgent, geeky language post.

Lately, he has started making sentences with three words instead of two, now with a very definite structure: subject – verb – object. For example, in Charlie and Lola yesterday, Sizzles the sausage dog ran off with a cuddly rabbit. The Toddler’s reaction: “Oh no! Sizzles got-it rabbit!” Of course, this sentence has two objects, but we will gloss over that – to the Toddler “gotit” is a complete verb.

His use of verbs is quite interesting to me as well. Mostly he uses Dutch verbs, whether the sentence is predominantly in English or in Dutch, and he only uses the infinitive. He will say: “Daddy maken car?” [Daddy fix car?] when the wheel has come off his favourite car. I have given other examples in earlier posts, such as “baby pakken” and “baby huilen!” He does not yet change the verb to show who is doing the crying or picking up, just the verb itself will suffice.

In English, he does one of three things with his verbs:
1) He uses the -ing form: “Mummy, number seven dancing!”
2) He puts “it” at the end: “Sizzles gotit rabbit” or “Daddy fixit car?”
3) He adds a Dutch ending to an English word to make it into a verb. This one is my favourite. Most recently he wanted to “play-en”.

When making words plural, it is the opposite way round. Whether the noun is Dutch or English, he puts an -s on the end. Only problem is: he is not quite solid on the reasons for adding the s and will apply it randomly, just to see what it sounds like. Although occasionally he will use it correctly: “Two cats!” or in the right context but with the wrong language: “Leeuws!” [Lions], most often we find that he expresses his joy at seeing his favourite people by grammatically multiplying them to make more: “Daddies! Omas!”


One response

  1. Pingback: Further grammar | Secrets of the Sandpit

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