Sunday, October 14, 2007

big bang

Now I've decided that 'that' is my number one important word, I need to think what other words would make up my four-word vocabulary. I've been thinking about the differences between how a baby would develop a vocabulary and an adult. A baby will certainly add words to his central 'that' based on his immediate environment, and a mind map might look like this:

baby's first words

Of course, the baby won't know the 'category' words - food, object, person, thing - just the things themselves, but a lot more essential words could be added to those two main branches and the following sub-branches. An adult, on the other hand, is perfectly capable of categorising crucial vocabulary in order to make a logical sequence of related words. The starting point of an adult's 'big bang' (I call it this because everything 'explodes' from a central point) could be simply his name.

We can keep adding to this essential vocabulary - which are key words, not grammatical ones like do you/are you/my name is/how old are you etc.


Anabel said...

"that" is a major important word in terms of survival -for babies, definitely; and, as you mentioned in a previous post, it is essential for non native travellers in a foreign country. I just realised that when teaching English it isn't easy to convey it through grammar exercises, though. I mean, learning these words makes sense in context or with the help of pictures.Any other grammar point and most vocabulary can be developed in thousands of ways in exercises. You can create a context by combining words and making them meaningful. But I am not sure it is so easy with "this" or "that". This could prove the fact that they are completely context-based.
I have been thinking of other categories for babies: physical needs (I can't think of one category word) -pain, changing nappies... After all, they actually communicate when they are feeling bad, but they haven't got the language to explain, so they might end up using meaningful extra-linguistic features, like crying. I don't know what key words other than "potty" they would use to convey this, probably because describing these physical needs would require a certain understanding of parts of the body and I don't know up to which extent children are aware and can refer to them.
By the way, congratulations for your blog. It definitely gives food for thought.

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