Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baby Linguistics

Given that Raphaela is now in the process of acquiring not one, but two languages equally well, I was intrigued by an article in today's New York Times by Nicholas Bakalar, entitled "Big Ears for Irony." Bakalar states that until the age of six, "younger children generally interpret rhetorical questions literally, deliberate exaggeration as a mistake and sarcasm as a lie."

I know that when I was pregnant and driving, I would often swear out loud and often, in response to the reckless drivers and dangerous conditions. I told myself that once the baby was born, I would have to seriously edit my mouth's output, because children hear and mimic everything.

These days I try to control myself in terms of my tone and my word usage, though sometimes I slip. When I feel utterly frustrated or exhausted, I will leave the room and have a primal scream before returning to taking care of Raphaela. I can only hope that Raphaela learns enough by positive example before she enters the Israeli school system, where I will have much less influence on her exposure to language and values.

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