Thursday, January 7, 2010


A little while ago I named parts of Tristan's body for him - "This is Tristan's body" (waving my hand over his whole little self), naming neck, back, legs. Well, yesterday, Tristan, while on our bed with Brigitte, touched her and said "body" - touched her back and said "back", touched her neck and said "neck". Holy moly, that is cute and brilliant.

Other new words:

eight (for all numbers)
light (yat)

He also has connected hot and cold as related.

I have another interpretation of the -s thing, with mommies, daddies used instead of mommy and daddy - very many times when speaking of the other, we will say what they're doing - "daddy's home", "mommy's out" - so I believe he hears the "daddy's" and "mommy's" as the nominative form, as a simple name for each of us; he doesn't have the word/concept of "is" on its own yet.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tristan LD V.3

Tristan is picking things up quite rapidly:

New words:
duck (for all birds, but also just today):
dirty "dody"
booger "buga"

And his first color word: yellow. He has noticed and named yellow things all around and outside the house (toilet paper package, lamplight. He wanted to combine banana and yellow..first he said nana for banana, and then "banawo" (yellow is "yewo").

He's also combining words, as I mentioned before. Brig was grooming his nose, and showed him the results, told him what it was, and he repeated "buga" and then said "dirty". He picks up He's very good with dirty now, and gets that it means it should be not touched or thrown away. He throws things away for us - we ask him "Tristan, will you put this in the garbage?" He marches over, lifts the lid, drops it in, and shuts it, and receives a cascade of accolades.

He touched a puddle from a boot and said "wet...cold".

I want to explain the hyphens in "I-see a-ball". Brig and I heard this as two words, not four, and what I know about stress patterns marking word boundaries in English bears this out. Both I-see and a-ball were two syllable constructs with the same stressed-unstressed pattern, as in a usual two syllable word (like "Ke-vin"). The I part is then like a first person verb prefix, like suffixes that mark conjugations in romance languages, and the a- is a demonstrative prefix, rather than a separate demonstrative word, like the indefinite article "a" that it comes from and will evolve into. This is all my personal conjecture based on what I learned about linguistics while earning my bachelor's...not sure what anyone official would have to say about it.

He already understands a few core grammatical features of English, like V-O (verb-object) sequence as in "read book", S-V (subject-verb, "I sit"), SVO and dem-noun ("I-see a-ball").


Standing in the front door of the brick apartment building is a woman, propping the door open with her extended arm. She feels the wind's pressure against the door in her triceps. The sun is shining through the clouds, lit and relit in the high snow. It has been warm enough that the snow on the walkway is melted. The man and the very small boy stopped and looked back at her, the former smiling, the latter squinting against the ambient bright light.
The boy was wearing his father's hat, folded up in half, so that it fit his head. He listened to her tell him she wasn't coming outside, and had clenched his hand and opened it, in a wave, and said with a lisping little mouth, "Bye-bye." Each word spoken with such specific attention. She laughed and said "bye-bye" back, imitating his stress pattern, and the father laughed. The small boy hesitated, still, and on a whim, she said "Blow me a kiss?" the boy ducked his head and furrowed his brow further. He started trodding back along the walk towards the door. The diffused reflected sunlight brightened his pale face.
She squatted in the doorway, still holding the door open, still resisting the slight wind, smiling. Kisses were special and rare- tokens of delicate affection placed carefully on adult mouths like jewelers place precious stones in settings. Adult kisses were frequent, sometimes slathered on his smooth fat face. They were often greeted with glee, but there had been many times the boy had exercised his right to refuse. She remembered them specifically at first, the smiling and the serious, always his little face swinging quickly away from her. She had given up requesting them, and had as a result, received the two he gave her with surprised tears in her eyes.
Up the short walk he toddles, his coat rustling and twisting as he swings his arms, eyes downcast. He keeps his eyes on the ground, carefully assessing his steps. He takes the small step up and finally looks up, very serious. He tilts his face up and placed his mouth against hers, his skin lit impossibly bright in her memory. Such a careful gesture, a gift, freely given and undertaken with great solemnity. The woman's eyes fill with tears, but the boy is already turned and walking back to his father. The man is laughing, shoulders shaking and eyes squinted up, sharing in her almost crying. They look at one another for a moment longer until the boy reaches his father. The boy waves again, the clench unclench of his little fist, and says with great care, "Bye bye." The adults laugh and nod.
"Bye bye." she repeats, voice a little thicker than before. She finally gives in to the wind, and lets the door swing shut, the flat brown face of it eclipsing slowly the bright snow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tristan's Language Development Cont'd

I forgot to mention wow-wow (for all dogs and some non-dog furry beasts, like rabbits, bears, etc.), meow for cats, and hooray.

And, just yesterday, Tristan mastered a few multi-word sentences - daddy bye-bye, read book, want book, want read book, I-see a-ball. COOL