Language development is truly fascinating. Even before words can form, a child’s babbling will be expressed with inflection and cadence mimicking the speech heard around them. When words do come, it is with an incredible joy as the child marks each thing in their world with a NAME. This is a doll. This is a shirt. This is bread. Suddenly, the world around them is more than just what they can see and point to. Once words are known, next they must be used. This is where the horrible monster known as grammar dwells.

Every kid messes up verb tenses, I was expecting that. What I wasn’t expecting was for the words themselves to be broken down in an entirely fabricated grammatical structure that shows a startling (if tremendously imsguided) insight into the English language.

Months ago, Brianne had a tremendous cold. Snot everywhere. Just icky. Through it all, she screamed for her “tishmies”. “I need a tishmie!” “Where are my tishmies?” and so on. Her cries were answered with “What the hell is a tishmie? Here, blow your nose and ask again so I can understand you.” But after a monstrous honking blow, she would walk away satisfied.

I am ashamed at how long it took to me realize she was asking for “tissue” when she said “tishmie”. But where did that invented word come from?

It came from her head trying to understand grammar. We would offer a tissue to her and she heard “tish you”, so the response of “yes, please tish me” made perfect sense in toddler brain.


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