Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

Proto-Sentences, Names, and Onomatopoeia

Gareth's most sentence-like utterance to date:

"Daddy shower sing E-I-E-I-O moo."

It has a subject, a verb, an object, and a preposition-free attempt at a prepositional phrase. Not bad.

His new obsession is with the word name. Names are confusing. Daddy has an extra name that isn't Daddy, Mommy has an extra name that isn't Mommy. It turns out that Zoe is the name of a specific cousin, not a generic term for all other small children Gareth's age. The book of nursery rhymes he used to call the lamb book has suddenly become the Mary book.

Live animals don't yet have names as individuals, though people do, and some animals in books do. The dinosaurs in Jane Yolen's delightful series of dinosaur etiquette books all have species names written into the illustrations, and Gareth's starting to attempt to pronounce them. It was the polacanthus who had written his name on a slate that started Gareth on his big name obsession.

Dinosaurs, like dragons, say "RAAAAAAH!" All other sorts of creatures have onomatopoeic sounds of their own. Cows moo, sheep baa, and so forth. Dragons and dinosaurs have to share the same noise, though Gareth knows that they are not the same, and he can even guess fairly well which is which in pictures. Whenever he's puzzled about animals, Gareth will request a few choruses of "Old MacDonald," and specify which creatures or sounds he'd like. "Sing! Horse!" he'll say, or "Song! Baa!" And he'll concentrate intently while we play along. Birdsong is especially puzzling. There are so many kinds of birds, and so many kinds of birdsong. What is one to do with a caw-caw here and a whoo-whooo there, here a tweet, there a quack, and everywhere a honk honk?
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