Memoir Blog

                At a young age children begin to learn how to communicate with other people, but mainly their parents.  I say this because most of the time only their parents can actually understand what is being said.  The obvious choice of communication for most 1 year old children is the use of their hands and other body parts.  Pointing usually indicates what the child is in want of.  The shaking of the head usually means an answer to an understood question.  As a child as young as 7 months old I began to use hand and head gestures to show my parents what I needed and wanted.  I slept with cloth diapers as a baby but only if they were folded.  When I would awake and find my diapers unfolded, I would cry and wave my hands to let my parents know that my diapers needed folded. 

As I matured, I began to create my own language to communicate with my parents.  The truth is because I barely saw my father because he worked only my mother could understand what I was saying.  When I wanted milk I would knock on the refrigerator and say “uh mmm”.  For juice, I would use the same hand gestures and ask “uh buice”.  Because I was often sick as a baby, I also had a word for doctor.  It was “coca”.  In one specific instance, my mom was in the kitchen and I was thirsty and wanted some milk.  I ran up to the refrigerator and said “momma momma uh mmm”.  My mom, understanding completely what I had said, responded quickly with “No honey, the doctor said you couldn’t have milk.  Would you like some juice?”  I was not allowed to have milk because of the drainage in my throat.  I did not feel like having juice at the moment so I shook my head and left for the moment.  After about five minutes, still thirsty, I once again ran up to the refrigerator but this time said “momma momma uh buice, coca no mmm”.  Once again Mom, understanding exactly what I said, pulled out the juice and fixed me a glass.  This is a perfect example of how children learn from clues and sounds to create a language that someone, like a parent, will understand. 

                After a child uses their created language for some time, the parents might start encouraging not using that created language but learning to use a more known vocabulary.  My parents did this by reading me the same book every night.  “Good Night Moon” was my favorite book of all, and I heard every night before I went to bed.  As I progressed in listening, my parents began to ask me to repeat words out of the book and then would tell me what they meant.  After I got tired of being read to every night they let me start watching television.  Like every other child the first show I watched was Sesame Street.  Sesame Street has been one of America’s most watched children’s shows due to its educational environment while still entertaining them.  Along with this classic television show I also enjoyed watching the Disney classic “The Jungle Book”.  “The Jungle Book” introduced to me more advanced words than I was used to.  Jungle, elephant, monkey, kingdom, and tiger are just a few of the complex words I learned from this extremely entertaining movie. 

                After the child has obtained some of the “common” vocabulary spoken in everyday language we are sent to pre-school or pre-K.  Here is where I learned what to say and when to say it.  I got punished when I said a “potty word” and praised when I used words correctly in a sentence.  This step begins a long process of learning to read and write using our English language.

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One Response to “Memoir Blog”

  1. This is an interesting outline of your language learning. It sounds almost as though you’re saying that your language started out as a pidgin for communicating with your parents, and then eventually creolized as you learned more and more.

    I’d be curious to know, given what you say here, what you make of Pinker’s essay that we’re reading in class this week.

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