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toddler etymologies

Harvey and Zion—especially Zion—are in love with explaining compound words and two-word phrases. It started with pancakes: Zion asked one day a couple months ago, "Why they called pancakes?", and I told him it was because they're like cakes and they're cooked in a pan. He continues to delight in the knowledge, and every Saturday I get to hear that "They called pancakes cause they cakes, an they in a pan!!"—only text can't convey the glee with which he pronounces those words.

But he doesn't limit himself to repeating explanations that I told him. He took the pattern and ran with it: "Iss called dog food cause iss food, an iss for a dog!"; "they called rain boots cause they boots, an you wear them in the rain!"; and so on and so forth. It's pretty charming.

You see I make some attempt to reproduce Zion's speech in "eye dialect" form, but I could go still further: for example, he doesn't really pronounce /th/ so "them" is really more like /dem/. Which leads to another amusing point of Zion language that I noticed the other day: the fact that he's mis-analyzed "dessert" as "the zert", and so says things like "after my carrots can I have some zert?"

All this goes to show how much hard serious work is going on in his toddler brain all the time as he tries to figure out this crazy language of ours. Tries, and does: folks have been remarking lately on how much more he's talking, and we've noticed it too. He's more confident with language in the last couple months, both in the range and variety of his sentences and the range and variety of other people he's willing to talk to. Language learning is working! And if he's still working hard, just imagine how much processing is going on in Elijah's brain right now... no wonder he sleeps so much!

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