Thursday, October 19, 2006

What would life be without 4?

When Boy1 was little and just starting to speak both languages, he mixed things up sometimes. He never said 'that' in sentences like 'Papa told me that I could have some more cake.' He would say "Papa told me que I could have some more cake." The que is easier to pronounce, I figured he'd figure it out eventually, which he did, when he was about 3 1/2. He also never said 'for' and used the French pour instead, although never at the beginning of a sentence. So he would say, 'for me!' if I asked him who the first crêpe was for. But he always said things like, "This book is pour you." I'm sure it was all very logical and systematic in his head. And again, after a while, he figured it out. Interestingly enough, when learning to count in English, he always skipped four. 1,2,3,5,6, all the way up to 10, but never including a four, and never substituting anything for it. Four didn't exist. Poor four.

Boy2 is three. His English is quite good and much more advanced than his French. He says things like, "I already peed!" "My pillow belongs here!" and "Of course you can have a hug." And my favorite, "You can't touch my cookie Mama. Because I said so, and I mean it!"

But, just like Boy1, he always leaves the 'four' out when counting. And he always says pour when it's not found in a sentence initial position. What is up with that? Is there something inherently objectionable in the words for/four? I am a great believer in the wisdom of children's intuitions so I guess there must be.

7 comments:

christi said...

odd. maybe you should do a linguistics study on that...

Lorraine said...

Very odd indeed. If you put four cookies in front of one of them and ask how many cookies there are what do they say?

beth said...

There must be something to if since both boys skiped the same number - I agree with Lorraine - see what happens.

zeb said...

I would guess you must be teaching it wrong.

polona said...

that's really interesting. i wonder what makes the brain work this way and not that.

i remember a text in which one was supposed to count all the letters f. people who spoke english (even if not native speakers) had problems finding all the f's. but i showed the text to some of my relatives who didn't speak english and they had no problems finding the f's.

here from charlie's and i've enjoyed your blog.
(et oui, c'est mon premier commentaire)

charlie said...

Who needs 'four' when you can tell mama you've already peed? There are the important things in life, then there is 'four'. Le pft.

beth said...

Nicole - check your email