Thursday, June 14, 2018, 10:45

S said her first sentence this morning. I was sitting on the coffee table in the living room, putting on my shoes, when she climbed up and sat beside me, swinging her legs like she loves to do. I kissed her head and stood up, saying I have to go to work. Bye bye, little one.” She looked up and said, Dada, sit here,” while pointing to the space on the table beside her.

I wonder about first sentences. My mother told me that my first sentence was, Mama, what doing?” What does that say about who a person is, or who they are becoming? If a long-term study was done on children’s first sentences and personality as it develops, tracking them into adulthood, what could we learn about how personality and language are connected from the very beginning? What kind of person emerges from the child whose first sentence is a question, and what kind of person emerges from the child whose first sentence is a command? Are all first sentences three words? Are they all about gaining more control over one’s self and surroundings?

Hearing this first sentence was powerful. How I wanted to do as she asked, rather than going in to work like I always do! And to think that yesterday was the first time I’d ever heard her use the word sit.” Today, she used that same word in her first sentence, which was the first time I’d ever heard her say the word here.” Language seems to be coming together so quickly, and it seems to indicate that learning language is more than just learning individual words. Multiple words come at the same time, reflecting an understanding of compound ideas that must have either been there before or came into being at the same time.



Written by Christopher Butler. If you enjoyed reading this, take a look at the full list of essays. If you'd like to get in touch, you can reach me at chrbutler at gmail dot com.


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