I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

This formerly read-only archive of threads dates back to 1996, but as of March 2007 is open to new postings. For technical reasons, the early dates shown do not accurately reflect the actual date of posting.

Feel free to add new postings to any of the existing threads in the archived forums, but please create any new language-related threads in one of the Language Discussion Forums.

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:41 pm

Tom, I have given a little more thought to the questions you asked about the formulations used when addressing a child, encouraging it to eat and persuading it not to perform an action. I've listed a few and added one or two extra suggestions or comments.

As I am not a parent - and because such things are open to personal preference in any case -- I will avoid expressing further opinions about the various epithets I have heard addressed to children. However, among them are several that you would expect to hear in the conversation of a dating couple, such as "Darling", "Honey", "Dear(ie)", "Sweet cheeks", "Sweetheart" and - of course - "Baby". I have also heard "Princess", "Pet", "Poppet", "Ducky" and "My lamb"; children of school age are sometimes addressed as "My little man", "Young man" and "Young lady", especially by people who do not know the child well or who are about to tell it off. In America, I believe "Honey child" is frequently used as an endearment by some parents and grandparents.

It's all very individual, and the epithet selected (if any) will depend on the child, its age and sex, the community and society it lives in, the context of the immediate situation and the general quality of its relationships with the adults it is in contact with.

(Families are doubtless inventing new ways to address children all the time. I heard of one unfortunate girl from London who was eight years old before she properly realised that her name was not 'Oi!' - a misapprehension which was the result of her father treating her as a domestic slave: "Oi! You come here!"; "Oi! Bring me the paper!"; "Oi! Where do you think you're going!".)

To encourage a child to eat, common exhortations or ploys include "Here comes the choo-choo (train) into the tunnel!"; "Open wide!"; "Show Daddy how well you can eat!"; "Weronika, tell me what you think of this" [when offering an unfamiliar and possibly alarming new foodstuff]. (Of course, children also have a right to dislike a given type of food and to refuse to eat it, just like their parents. Sometimes even making a game out of mealtimes is not enough to persuade a child to eat up.)

As suggested above, "No!", "Hot!", and "Dirty!" are effective basic prohibitions, especially for small children. You might add "Don't!", "(Please) don't touch!" and "Dangerous!" to the repertoire. However, from my observation an intelligent child is soon capable of understanding more than the prohibition alone; in the case of the niece I have already mentioned, from a young age her parents also took some trouble to explain why she was being told not to do something, which I think was quite helpful in turning her into the co-operative and reasonable child she is.

Finally, it seems sensible not to ignore the language-learning opportunities opened up by recently-developed technologies (such as streaming radio and TV on the internet) when Weronika is a little older. The seven-year-old child of my youngest brother, who lives in Central America, has been brought up speaking both Spanish and English; again, here there is only one foreign-language-speaking adult in the household. Her ability and motivation to speak English has been greatly increased by the wide variety of interactive English-language games (not to mention animated films) available on CD-ROM or DVD. This has had the incidental triple benefits of giving her spoken English an American twang (!) plus great confidence in using Daddy's computer, and also ensuring that Daddy sometimes goes and does something else once in a while!

In case you're curious, her father speaks both Spanish and English to her, and consequently her English is not quite as good as her Spanish; without the added stimulus from the computer, I think it would probably be quite a lot worse. Nevertheless, she is already able to write basic sentences in both languages, partly as a result of having read children's books in English (and having them read to her.)

Anyhow, Tom, whatever the details of the decisions you make, I am sure your experiment will work out. I believe your daughter will have a lot to thank you for in the years to come!
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:56 pm

Tom, I got it. I had read your postings a little too fast. I had misinterpreted your 'You cannot teach a baby or a child a foreign language unless you speak only one language’ statement by not integrating it with the rest.

I have a friend who is talking almost exclusively to her grandchild in Brazilian Portuguese and she spends time with him every day. The parents are trying to talk only in English. The father, whose Portuguese is very weak anyway, refrains altogether and the mother who is completely bilingual is actively trying to restrain herself, but slips up a bit, but not much. The only thing I can report is, my friend tells me that the baby (13 months) seems to be responding equally well to both languages and the strategy sounds similar to yours and, so far so good. Now that I’ve seen this plan in action and have thought about it, it seems like a pretty good idea (provided that the parent(s) feel(s) they can express them selves adequately to the child in the second language).

My son might be a kind of anomaly (although I have no data on how others do), in that he has done very well with a second language, with his first exposure being when he was a teenager. He took a few years of German in school and spent one summer in Germany when he was 14. Last year (at 17) he spent a full year living in Germany. He did speak German almost exclusively for that whole year. He spoke German with his host family and he took all his high school (and college math/physics) courses there in German. When, I visited him at the end of his year, many of the people I spoke with said that it was difficult to detect in his speech that he wasn’t a native. He had just soaked things up like a sponge. He is now trying to do the same thing with French and is going to study in France this summer (also plans on spending his junior year there). I have never had any skills in the foreign language area and I’m sure that such feats would have been impossible for me. In fact, I did study German, French, and Spanish (not long enough) and did spend some time in those countries and I could barely understand what I heard, much less speak it. I might be one of those guys who would have to have started learning ‘before birth’ to have gotten anywhere with a foreign language. Maybe there is a foreign language gene somewhere (and I don’t have it or mine isn’t in good shape). I do have a feeling there might be a math/science type gene and if there is, my son got a good copy. As an anecdotal example, his parents families are littered with these types of people and it’s not always direct influence because many of them have had no interaction with a family member of this variety.

My mother and grandparents spoke Yiddish and English to my sister, who is 6 years older, and she speaks it pretty well. I somehow missed the boat and got to hear it mostly when they didn’t want me to know what they were saying (but maybe I can blame it on my defective or missing gene). So, I can understand a fair amount, but couldn’t carry on a conversation and that’s too bad – wish it had been otherwise. Also, my father spoke Hungarian, which would also have been nice to have learned, but I was unaware that he could even speak it until he began talking to a waiter in a Hungarian restaurant when I was in my teens. Interestingly (and sadly) none of the children of my father’s 5 sisters, who all were born in Hungary and spoke Hungarian, ever taught it to any of their children. My two cousins whose mother and father were both raised in Hungary (my uncle Arpod’s voice was a dead ringer for Bella Lugosi – ‘I want to drrink your blod’). Maybe their philosophy was that by not teaching them the language they were helping to Americanize and assimilate, and by so doing they were doing their children a favor.

This has been a very interesting discussion, although I don’t have anything to add to the good comments that have already been made on the diminutives question.

Ken – April 8, 2002
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:10 pm

While I was reading about Erik's niece and her contact with spoken Danish I realized that my situation was more favourable for the simple reason that English is spoken almost everywhere and by thousands of millions of people. Mass media are saturated with it and I come across it at every turn. Even people who have never studied it and who claim that they have no gift for languages know at least a few or more useful expressions. What I'm trying to say is that popularity of a language does matter as it is strictly connected with the accessibility to essential, educational materials on market. I have managed to amass almost 400 books and hundreds of cassettes of miscallenous contents to faciliate mastering the language and my library is constantly growing in number. I am still looking for spoken British English. Unfortunately, TV is flooded almost exclusively with the American variety (I am, by no means, xenophobic. BE is the variety I was taught and to whose sound I'm more accustomed. That's all. No hidden dislikes).

I would like to thank all once more for their invaluable comments and advice.

By the way (like Colombo unable to finish a conversation), do you spell Vikki, as Melvyn suggested, or may it be Vicky? Sorry, but this is important for me.

Tom (Bartoszyce-POLAND)
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:25 pm

I'm sure you're right about the much higher profile of English creating a more favourable context for learning English as opposed to Danish. It does not help that Danish retailers and producers of educational materials have been very slow to exploit the internet as a method of promoting their products, not to mention the fact that Danish publishers price their offerings at indecently insane levels, otherwise this might be a fruitful source of Danish-language resources.

Vicky is the more common familiar form of 'Victoria', but Vikki also occurs. It's a matter of individual preference. As far as I know it's not used to represent 'Veronica', but again there's no particular reason not to resort to it if you like it.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:39 pm

"Vicky" can also be spelled "Vicki" or "Vickie." There are probably other spellings, too--you can pretty much take your pick for the one you like. I have never heard of that being a diminutive of "Veronica," though. At least in the US, "Veronica" is usually shortened to "Ronnie" (which can also be spelled "Roni" or "Ronni").
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 8:53 pm

Babies are great imitators and learn by imitating. Ergo, if you want baby to open up to be fed, trying opening your own mouth wide and saying "Ahhhh" and baby will do the same.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:22 pm

Catherine Dart is ABSOLUTELY incorrect about not using baby talk. NExt time, she should check the research before she speaks.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:37 pm

My parents are both linguists. Neither of them care for Chomsky, just for the record. I am also a new mother and from what I have read, it is best to speak to children in whatever languages you want them to learn before they are 9 months old. This is because, after about 9 months, they lose the ability to hear certain sounds. This is why, when you learn a new language as an adult it is almost impossible to speak without an accent. There are certain sounds you just can't distinguish. Take, for instance, the pronunciation of "l" as "r" by many Chinese people. They literaly do not hear the difference in those sounds.

While it is true that teaching them 2 languages at once will result in some initial confusion that may even result in slightly delayed speaking ability, in the long run they will have a better handle on both of those languages.

I dont' know for sure if this is true, but it is my understanding that this is the latest thinking on the subject....
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:51 pm

What is insulting about little tyke? I think it's affectionate.

Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:05 pm

Erik!! Honey Child?!!

I am from the USA. I haven't heard anyone refer to anyone else as Honey child in years. And, even then, it was NOT to a child. It is not a term of endearment by any means. In fact, it is my impression that it is more of a way to start a sentence when you are about to put someone in their place. Also, and I may be wrong about this, but I think it is primarily an expression used among African-American women....
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:20 pm

I am American, but I have 2 British friends that call their one year old daughters "cheeky monkeys." Don't know if that is common or just them, but either way it seems pretty cute to me!

Kim (New York)
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:34 pm

Since you're all fascinated with anecdotal trash,try an urban myth web site.
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:49 pm

Tomku nie rob dziecku krzywdy i uzywaj wszystkie polskie zdrobnienia jakimi cie mama lub tata czy babcia wychowywala.Mozesz sam twozyc wlasne i dolozyc do tego angielskie (why not) jezeli juz bardzo tego chcesz.

Victor Swit Niles, Illinois,USA
Reply from ( - )
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Re: I NEED COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE, NOT SLANG

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:08 am

Several years have elapsed since I wrote the postings above, concerning which I have some additional remarks to make today.

The niece I first mentioned is now 13. Not long after I wrote about my middle brother's attempts to transmit a knowledge of Danish to her, he gave up the task: as a non-native speaker of Danish himself, his command of the language was simply too weak, and both he and his daughter found his attempts to speak it to her increasingly embarrassing whenever they were in the presence of non-family members.

My mother was, I think, less easily embarrassed, and we also met fewer outsiders in our own domestic setting. Nevertheless, with the benefit of hindsight I can now appreciate what a tremendous effort of persistence and determination she made to ensure that her children would end up with a better-than-rudimentary knowledge of her native tongue, especially considering that she had only just become an adult herself when she emigrated from Denmark to England aged 20.

My mother's input in enabling me and my brothers to communicate with our extended family in Denmark in their own language has yielded great benefits. By contrast, a substantial linguistic divide separates me from my Spanish-speaking relations by marriage; we have no common language we can easily converse in, and this has had a correspondingly adverse effect on the closeness of our relationship.

The situations I have observed have demonstrated to me that the effort required to transmit to a child the knowledge of a particular language in a community in which that language is not otherwise spoken should not be underestimated. In my opinion, if there is only one parent/teacher available to perform this task, it can only succeed if the parent communicates with the child exclusively and consistently in his/her native tongue; but many situations will arise when doing so will be either difficult or awkward, or both.

On the other hand, there are many more resources available to today's parents than when I was growing up, not least in the form of the diverse teaching tools and learning groups that now exist both on- and offline. These have the potential to somewhat mitigate the difficulties that lie ahead for parents plus children whose circumstances are similar to those of my family all those years ago.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

End of topic.
Post Reply