It’s Not All Mary Poppins

language is slippery

“I’m not as old as I used to be,” Nigel announces.

(Nigel, for those of you new to Mary’s place, is an alumnus. He headed off to Big Kid School a while back, but visits on PD days.) “I used to be four and a half, and now I’m four and three quarters.”

(Does he know the difference between one-half and three-quarters, I wonder? Does he even kinow what a half and quarter are? I doubt it, but he does know that three-quarters is more than one-half. Whatever they are. It’ll do for now!)

“I’m not as old as I used to be.”

He means, of course, that he’s not the same age as he used to be. He’s not somehow getting younger — show me how you do that, Nigel! — he’s gotten older. It’s a subtle distinction in vocabulary, but a world of distinction in meaning. A lot of language is like that.

Fascinating to watch them catch the nuances, and really, quite astonishing what we manage to figure out as young as we all do.

Slippery, and fascinating.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Nigel | , , | 4 Comments