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Language Errors My Child Is Making That I Cannot Correct…

…because they make perfect sense to me!

My son recently turned two. Although not delayed in a truly worrisome way, he was a bit slow to begin talking. It turns out it is surprisingly difficult to determine a child’s true first word. At least, it was challenging for us. My husband and I spent months going “Did he say cat? I think he said cat!”, “Does it count as ‘mama’ if he is actually saying ‘mamamamama’ and only when he is crying?”, “I said ‘nap’ and I think he repeated me! Well, maybe.” Finally, when he was seventeen months old, my son definitively began using the word “uh-oh” in the correct context. Since that time he has steadily added words to his vocabulary, and I am getting such a kick out of watching his language development.

First of all, his understanding of grammar rules is hilariously fuzzy. For instance, he has grasped that we often add an “ies” ending when we are talking about the plural form of young, small creatures. Little dogs are puppies, little cats are kitties, little rabbits are bunnies, etc. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to my toddler that the small Matchbox cars he rolls around the house are called “bussies.” After all, that big vehicle we see on the city streets is called a bus. (Incidentally, up until very recently he called any vehicle larger than a pick-up truck a bus. Just in the past week or two he has begun to differentiate between actual buses, “big truck”s, “firey truck”s, and “gobbage truck”s.) And whenever he sees a picture of himself, he gleefully announces “It’s you!!!” I have no idea how to even go about correcting this, because if I say, “No, it’s ME,” that’s confusing, but I also can’t say “No, its YOU,” because that’s exactly what he just said. So most of the time I just say, “Yup, who are you?” and he gives me his mangled pronunciation of his own first name and I figure that’s good enough.

Then there are the amusing over-generalizations. The other day we were driving somewhere in the car and he was whining from the backseat, “My horse, my horse! MY HORRRRRRSSSSSEEEE!” I couldn’t figure out what the heck he meant because he only has two horse toys: One of them is an enormous rocking horse, the other is a little plastic thing that rides on one of his toy trains, and neither of them were in the car at the time. Plus we hadn’t even been playing with his horses before getting into the car, so I thought it was unlikely that he was suddenly pining for them (although with a two-year-old, you never know). So we drove along like that for awhile, him shouting for his horse and me replying in my best trying-to-be-soothing-but-also-trying-not-to-wreck-the-car voice “I don’t know what you want, buddy. I can’t get your horse right now. There are no horses here.” We finally reached our destination, and as soon as I unbuckled him from the carseat he reached down to the floor below his seat and picked up a plastic Brontosaurus  Apatosaurus. “My horse,” he sighed, lovingly. So, yeah, my son thinks dinosaurs are horses. To be fair, this particular dinosaur is brown with four legs and a long-ish neck and a tail. We have yet to really read books about dinosaurs or talk about dinosaurs, but horses fitting that general description feature fairly regularly in his books and songs. He has even seen a few in real life. I get it. He also calls giraffes and zebras horses. And “bear” is used for anything that is furry and brown, including beavers and guinea pigs. We have some work to do on animal identification, clearly.

Finally, there are the mispronunciations, many of which I just can’t bear to correct because they are so cute. Case in point: he consistently calls balloons “nims”. Not even close, but his conviction and consistency is charming. On the other hand, he has taken to yelling “SEX! SEX!” in public on a regular basis. He means “snacks,” obviously. Needless to say, that is one I will be attempting to correct ASAP.


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