Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cents and sensibility

There's nothing like watching the development of a very verbal toddler for recognizing the idiosyncrasies of one's native language. As someone with a passion and talent for foreign languages, I think I have a pretty good awareness of the aspects of English that don't make complete sense, but my three-year-old frequently calls my attention to more of them when she applies perfectly reasonable logic and comes up with sentences that just don't work.

I've already mentioned one example of words that have multiple opposites. Recently, when I explained that her little sister and I were light sleepers but she and Daddy weren't, she asked, "Mommy, why are we dark sleepers?" Given the relationship between light and sleep, this might have been particularly confusing, but she's since learned that the right term is "heavy sleeper."

I was quite amused this morning when I found that her misuse of a homonym enabled her to quantify something that normally isn't quantified. After she explained to me in elaborate detail that her imaginary friend was a light sleeper but also a little bit of a heavy sleeper, I claimed that that didn't make any sense, and was answered by an insistent, "Mommy, it makes one cent!"

Well, maybe just one.

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