Language has always fascinated me. In high school, when other kids were exploring the worlds of science and history and economics, I fueled my educational passions with linguistics. I love the building blocks of words, the history of words, the sheer beauty of words. In a word, I’m an etymology geek.
My classmate and high school next-door neighbor only helped to pique my interests, as he was – and remains – the biggest word nerd I know. We studied linguistics and French together (while he also studied German), and, in his spare time, he created an entirely new language. He built it from the ground up, complete with nouns, verbs, present- and past-participles, you name it. I still have the lexicon he gave me. Today he is a very successful translator, which surprises me not in the least.
I love seeing a joy of words in others, and this feeling is tenfold with my children. All three are quite verbal, each in his own unique way. My two-year-old was stringing together five-word sentences at the ripe old age of 20 months. Lennon, at almost four, is fascinated by new words and their meanings, and has no problem asking a million questions about them. Jack, as is his wont, takes his love of language to a whole other level.
Jack tends to take on new things, master them, then make them his own. For instance, he received a new train and tracks for Christmas. He played with the set as-is for a day, then started to dismantle and reassemble it. Once he figured out how to put it back together “properly,” he moved on. He spends his afternoons building elaborate tracks all over the living room, incorporating pieces from several different brands, creating entirely new systems.
He does the same thing with his language. I know that children often play with words as they grow and understand the complexities more and more. Twins will go so far as to create their “own” language, shared with no one but each other. Jack, though, is like my neighbor. He has words of his very own, each with individual definitions and rules and tenses. We used to think Jack was just filling gaps in his vocabulary, but instead of decreasing as he’s grown older, his personal lexicon has gotten larger.
Here are a few of the words he uses most often (with definitions, for those who are not fluent in JackSpeak):
Glaver – /glayver/ noun 1) a small measurement of size. “I want just a glaver of cake.”
Blaver – /blayver/ noun and verb 1) something that shoots lots of water, like a water gun. “I loved the blaver at the water park.” 2) “a thing that blave-s,” meaning anything that shoots water. “The fountains at the water park were blaving.” “The blaver sprayed on the fire engine and made it clean.”
Dater – /dayter/ noun 1) “the turner that turns things into a train engine.”
Dieter – /deeter/ verb “when you turn into a train engine.” (I’m not convinced this is the actual definition, but I forgot to write it down initially, and when I asked today that’s what he came up with.)
Droove – /droove/ verb 1) the past-tense of “drive”. “I droove my trains over the tracks.” “Daddy droove me in the van to school.”
Scroove- /skroove/ verb 1) to twist or turn something, like a platform swing on a pole at the playground. ”I want to go scroove on the playground.” 2) the past-tense of “screw.” “My swing scrooved really quickly down the pole.”
Cayvla – /cayvlah/ noun 1) a tool for opening and closing things. “I used a cayvla to open the seat on my bike.”
Glove /glohve/ verb. Sadly, I again forgot to write down the definition of this one. All words today in Jack’s world pertained to trains, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t train-related.
These are not one-time-usage words. Each plays an active role in his vocabulary, and he adds new ones every so often. Jack is also becoming multi-lingual, and his new words are taking on both French (via school) and Spanish (via Dora and Diego) characteristics.
I don’t know if Jack will become a great linguist. I don’t even know if, a year from now, he’ll still remember and use these wonderful words. I do know that I will continue to support and encourage his love for language, and hope that someday he’ll be my fellow word geek.
I have to edit this to add that there was definitely a time we never dreamed Jack would be verbal at all, let alone get creative with his words. At the age of two, when he first began receiving his services, he had only four words he used with any frequency. I give all credit to Amanda Chastain with The Speech Network, and the amazing team at Therapy West in Los Angeles for unlocking my child and releasing his genius. To them I say thank you, thank you, thank you. Believe me when I say we think of you every single day.
Early Intervention works. If your child has a speech delay, don’t wait. Our pediatrician told us to “wait it out” until he was two-and-a-half. Instead, we got him assessed, got him into speech therapy, and got him talking. By age two-and-a-half Jack was well on the road to “normal” speech. That may not be the outcome for all children, but you can’t know until you try.Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | digg | reddit | eMail