Another thought on toddler cognitive development

The kid has started categorizing the world and associating properties with those categories. He has also started learning the names of things. Examples:

  • He will see a dog, and say “Dah!”
  • He will hear a dog bark, and say “Dah!”
  • He will hear an airplane, and say “Buuuuuu,” and point up at the sky even if the plane isn’t in our field of sight.
  • He will spot a bus from blocks away, get very excited, and say “Buh! Buh! Buh! Buh! Buh!”
  • He will see a cat and meow at it as best he can.

But the categories are still pretty general, and the edges are blurry:

  • He will see or hear a truck and say “Buh!”
  • He will see a cat, and say “Dah!”
  • He will see a squirrel, and say “Dah!”
  • He will see or hear a dog and meow at it.
  • He will see a human child, say “Dah!,” and then meow at them.

So it seems that right now, in his mind, “Dah!” is any animal, or at least any mammal, bigger than a pigeon and smaller than an adult human, and he further believes that all non-verbal “Dah!” meow. Even more oddly, sometimes he will react verbally to no apparent stimulus – he will say “Dah!,” or “Buh!,” or start meowing, without anything around that I can detect. Sometimes he seems to be remembering previous sightings – he has definitely reacted to neighboring apartments that house cats or dogs, even if nothing is currently visible in the window – but that’s not always the answer. Is it that he heard a sound which he associates with “Dah!” or “Buh!” but which I don’t? Is he simply remembering “Dah!” or “Buh!” and talking about them? Is he trying to call one? It’s a mystery, but at least it’s one of the cuter mysteries.

Except when he looks behind me in an otherwise empty apartment and waves good-bye to nothing. That’s kind of creepy.


About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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