Language Acquisition

One fascinating experience in parenthood is witnessing language acquisition. My daughter is just over twenty-one months old, and recently hit an asymptote in language development. One of my favorite phenomena probably has a name, although I don’t know what it is. When she wants to be carried, she says, “carry you?” If she wants me to sit next to her while she falls asleep, she says, “sit next to you?” Likewise, “pick you up?” And so on. On the one hand, she’s really getting it. On the other, there still seems to be a missing parsing module.

Although I minored in linguistics, we almost never studied anything having to do with “real” language. The department was virtually 100% Chomskyan, and we spent much of our time trying to figure out what the heck the Minimalist Program was.

As it turns out, the Minimalist Program did nothing to prepare me for the experience of watching my daughter acquire language.