Monday, July 05, 2010

Don't like dat vs jibun de.

This post might not be of much interest to anyone but me (moreso than my others posts).

About 2 months ago, Sean learned the phrase "don't like dat", usually accompanied by pushing "dat" away and sticking out his bottom lip. It's very funny to watch. It often actually means I've had enough - something he does like and was happily eating a few minutes ago will be declared "don't like dat" when he's full.

Children's language skills are very practical. The words and phrases they use are actually chosen not for their "real" meaning but for the outcome they produce. For Sean, if "don't like dat" results in dat being removed and something better replacing it (where something better might just be leaving the table) then who cares whether he really does or doesn't like it. The long term goal of communicating his preferences to us suffers a little but he's not really into long-term planning yet :) and up until now we've had to figure out his preferences from non-verbal cues anyway. So as long as we don't take him literally, this phrase serves its purpose perfectly.

Even for Riona, the word "why" is still just a button she can press to make me speak more about something. I often forget this and get frustrated with questions like "why is that a toilet?".

More recently Sean learned "jibun de" - "by myself" or as Riona used to say (or shout) "my do! my do!" (that's English by the way).

The problem is that both phrases now come out sounding mostly the same, so when you move some food onto his plate and he starts shouting at you, it's 50-50 whether he doesn't want the food or whether he does want it but wants to get it himself. For some reason I seem to get it right considerable less than 50-50. Poor Sean (for a while I thought maybe we should change his name to Poor Sean, it's not easy being small, adventurous and Riona's little brother).

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