Monday, May 14, 2012

A Toddler-Friendly Language?

Could some languages be easier to use with toddlers that others? This is by no means a study in linguistics, but more of a personal theory that comes from my day-to-day experience. To tell you the truth, raising my son in French in an English-speaking country, I have developed  a sort of English-envy. I feel that the English language is better suited for toddler-rearing, because of its simple words and clearer ways to express things. For instance, it's a lot easier to repeat "share" than "il faut partager!" You can also use 'sharing' for lending toys, whereas in French you have to switch to "preter" which brings in a whole other concept. 

There are also some simple phrases parents use that convey easy messages like "use your words". I try to translate it, to "utilise tes mots", but it sounds a bit awkward and unnatural. I also like the saying "it hurts my feelings", the translation for this would be "ca me fait de la peine" but I think the French expression is a lot more abstract (it literally means "it pains me"). 

Finally, I think the English language can easily be put into simple phrases you can repeat over and over. I have heard A's teacher say to a child who was upset about the sticker she got "you get what you get and you don't get upset", I think that it's a great way to put it, and that there is no way you could do that in French. Maybe it's because I don't live in France and have lost some of my skills, but I feel that French requires you to explain things in more complex ways. 
Don't get me wrong, I love the French language, and its complexity is what makes it particularly interesting, but when it comes to toddlers, the English language may have an advantage. Maybe a linguist could actually study the issue.

1 comment:

  1. And even within the English language, there are so many variations. I had to laugh when I saw you include the "you get what you get." Here in the South, E's teachers say it, "You get what you get and don't throw a fit." (Although I suspect that pronounce that second "get" as "git.")

    Very interesting perspective!