Skip to main content

My Son's Linguistic Challenge

If my son sees a ball, he says "ball"* (repeatedly). If he sees a 2-dimensional ball on the page of a book, he says, "ball." If he sees the Pepsi logo on a vending machine, he says "ball." If he sees the round plastic buckle on his car seat strap, he says "ball." If he sees anything circular, he says "ball."

The linguistic challenge for my 17-month-old boy? Hyponyms. Or superordinates. Hyponyms are subcategories of a word, more specific than the word itself, which is the superordinate. For example, "bird" is the superordinate (the category) for such animals as crows, hummingbirds, and birds of paradise. For that matter, "animal" is the superordinate for "bird." Conversely, "bird" is a hyponym of "animal," and "crow," "hummingbird," and "bird of paradise" are hyponyms of "bird."

In my son's case, "ball" has become an absolute superordinate because he hasn't learned the hyponyms. "Ball" is not even the right superordinate. I suppose "circle" would be, if you can include a ball (sphere) as a hyponym of "circle."

A baby's failure to distinguish between superordinates and hyponyms, of course, is not a problem at all. My son has an incredibly sophisticated language-learning capacity, and I am confident he will gradually learn all the vocabulary and grammar he ever needs (and probably some he doesn't need). He may in fact already know words for various ball-shaped objects. The problem then is either phonological (he cannot yet pronounce "circle" or "buckle") or volitional. Perhaps he is trying to will balls into existence. Evidence for this could be found in the fact that, in addition to calling anything round that he sees "ball," he still frequently and randomly says "ball" even if he doesn't see anything resembling a ball. Volition is, unfortunately, beyond the realm of linguistics.

*It's actually more like /baw/ at this point; he doesn't usually get much of the "l" in there.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Movie Review: A Better Life - Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part review of A Better Life. The first part dealt more with the background issue of illegal immigration, whereas this part focuses more on the movie itself.

In the movie, neither the undocumented immigrants (representative of all the undocumented, but particularly those with upright motives) nor the police (representative of the legal system, including courts, prisons, and immigration) is entirely at fault. Both are stuck in an imperfect, human system.

The viewer is led to sympathize with the undocumented man, an honest landscaper who wants nothing but to work hard so that his one son can have a better life. He’s away from home; his wife left him when his son was little; he has next to nothing; when he does acquire something (a lawn business and pickup with equipment) it gets stolen from him. And yet, the movie does not excuse what he does wrong nor does it try to show him as a man victimized and ruined by the consequences of his actions.

Apart fr…

教会に影響を与えるために神様が用いる人々の九つの特徴

Read this in English.

これらの9つの特性は、アンドルーボナーから来る。説教でそれらを議論する私の牧師を聞きながら、コピーしたので、ボナーの何本から来たのは覚えていません。これらはクリスチャンに対してとても大事の本質ではないでしょうか。

教会に影響を与えるために神様が用いる人々は次の特徴がある...

1.まじめな人
2.成功を目標する人
3.信仰を持つ人
4.勤勉な人
5.忍耐強い人
6.大胆な人
7.祈る人
8.強力な教義の人
9.深くに清新な人

黒澤監督の『隠し砦の三悪人』

今週初めて黒澤明の『隠し砦の三悪人』という映画を見ました。この三悪人とは、だれですか? 三船敏郎が演じる真壁六郎太(まかべろくたろう)と二人の百姓です。この3人の登場人物の関係はとても面白くて、全ての人間の弱さも愛される性質も示します。

最後の場面で、二人の百姓、太平(千秋実)と又七(藤原釜足)、姫と真壁からもらった金1枚をどうやって分けるかと黙っていて、太平は又七に任そうとしていても又七は断ります。いつもケンカしているこの二人は、後で再びケンカしてしまうと思われますけれども、取りあえずまた仲良くなって幸いです。