Home AboutBest Of Reviews Subscribe BlogrollTwitter



Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm Talking about "You"

Daughter is either the Queen of England, stunningly formal even with her own family, or not fully master (mistress? sounds a little off...) of the finer points of English grammar. On the little matter of pronouns, there is no doubt that she has some unorthodox -- though extremely consistent -- usage. In short, m-e is pronounced you, and y-o-u is pronounced me. For example:

When she's feeling timid about something, typically a loud noise, she'll come trotting over as fast as she can, bury her head in my knees, and hang on for dear life, her little body just begging to be picked up. And as soon as I do, she'll moosh her whole self into me, bury her hands between her belly and mine, hide her face in my shoulder, and repeat in a soothing voice, "Mama got you. Mama got you. Mama got you."

When something is fascinating, brand new, annoying -- or basically, whenever I'm sitting still and she feels the need for me to be anything but sitting down -- she grabs my hand and pulls as hard as she can, insistently demanding "Show me. Show me!"

At the top of the staircase, when she's carrying several vital items that must come downstairs, she'll hurl herself off the step into my waiting arms (how trusting are the young), announcing confidently "Mama carry you."

On the other hand, while me/you seems to be wired backwards in her mind, she's a seriously independent little soul. I she has no problem with. Try to open her individually wrapped cheese stick for her? Annoyed response: "I do it." Try to pour her milk from a full gallon? Little Miss Grabby intervenes: "I do it." Try to fasten her diaper, get out vegetables to chop for dinner, or put her into her carseat rather than let her climb up? She'll push you out of the way and insist, "I do it." And if you let her accomplish said feat, you'll be rewarded with the most gleefully triumphant, "I did it!"

How can a child who is not yet two, and who has mastered a difficult irregular verb tense, get me confused with you? Since I know she very clearly understands the separateness of herself from her mama, it's not a literal confusion. And what little I know of the patterns of language acquisition doesn't help explain. But then again, I'm not an expert in how brains intuit linguistic rules from the language they hear. Can you solve my grammar mystery? I'd love to know how.

20 comments:

mommytherobot.blogspot.com said...

so cute! at least YOUR royal majesty doesn't refer to herself in the 3rd person... MY royal highness does!

angie said...

Is it that she is mimicking you. Especially during fear? Saying what she knows you would say to her. Maybe that provides her comfort?

Lisa said...

No clue why but it IS cute :)

LceeL said...

She's a mimic - she will grow up to be an actress. And she is very, very smart.

Robin said...

I have no idea, but my almost 3 1/2 year old refers to himself in the second person...always. There is no me or I, just you, but I know he is talking about himself. He also has he/she and him/her backwards. But he is consistent. He always refers to boys as she/her and always refers to girls as he/him. Hopefully he'll figure it out eventually!

Lisa said...

Emma does this too. And Tim used to. I always thought that it was mimicking the way we (the parents) speak about those events since the child has figured out how to extrapolate the grammar rules needed to switch the subject and object of the sentence.

Lisa said...

"has" should have been "hasn't" in the previous post.

Seems that I haven't extrapolated the rules of grammar, either. :-)

foolery said...

Aw, heck, I have no idea, but as PW often says, I could SO lactate right now from the sweetness. Kinda gross image, sorry, but this one just tugs at my hearts strings. :)

MommyTime said...

Yes, I think you are all right that she is imitating me, as these are all phrases I say to her. And I can even hear my inflection in her voice when she says these things, so that's the conclusion I'd reached too.

But what I find so fascinating is that she DOES get the "I" pronoun correct. She doesn't ever mix up "I" and "me" and say "Me do it" or "give I it." Nor does she, along the imitating principle, say "you do it" in place of "I do it" because she's repeating what she's heard me say to her. I am intrigued that she has managed to discern the "rule" for pronoun usage in the case of "I" versus "you" (that is, as the SUBJECT of the sentence) but not yet in the case of the OBJECT of the sentence. Language acquisition is so interesting to watch...

And, Iceel, you are right in more ways than you can possibly know. I have quite the clever little dramatic one on my hands already!

MommyTime said...

Lisa, has/hasn't -- it's not grammar, just typing. :) So nice to have you here!

Mr Lady said...

I swear that our kids talk on the phone at night. They speak the same language. Yet another reason you must visit.

Kelly said...

I, too, am fascinated by language acquisition. Unfortunately, Jack is a bit on the slower side with tackling those pronouns or more complex verbal anything, really. It's all Jack tiss! Jack tisss! As he point to himself and tries to make the world his domain.

Kelly said...

Oh, and I would love your e-mail. I looked for it on your blog. I would love to get those words back. I am kicking myself for deleting that post out of my own fear. Thanks.

MommyTime said...

Kelly, my email is victeacher AT comcast DOT net -- email me, and I"ll send it to you.

Tara R. said...

'Mama got you...' my heart would melt. That is precious.

Judith Shakespeare said...

Awwwww... but it's so endearing! You'll remember the little confusion long after she's mastered English.

Betsy Bird said...

My guess is that she's imitating things you say. When she's talking about "me," she's doing it in the way you would, which is by saying "you," and vice versa. But when she hears you talking about what you do, she's hearing "I do it," never "me do it."

Or maybe she's just trying to be adorable.

OHmommy said...

Adorable. Sounds like an actress in the making. :)

fawn said...

Sounds like this is something a lot of kids do, hunh? I know my SIL used to get big laughs from my niece when they'd look at pictures because whenever there was a picture of her and they asked, "And who's that?" she'd say gleefully, "YOU!" LOL

Jade is like Kelly's Jack. She knows how to say "mine", but otherwise always refers to herself as "Jeejeed".

Cathi said...

How old is your grand daughter? Our grand daughter is two and does the same way. Our grandson's did the same at age two. I believe it comes from what we say to them and they haven't turned the words around yet.

 

Blog Design by JudithShakes Designs.
Image Hosting by Flickr.