Thinking It Through

I wasn’t there, but reliable sources say this exchange happened last night while reading Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse at bedtime:

BOY: Mouse.

HRH: Yes.

BOY: [LOOKS AT NEXT PICTURE] Mices. Two mices.

HRH: Almost! When there’s just one, it’s a mouse. When there are two, they’re called mice.

BOY: Two mice.

HRH: Yup.


BOY: One mouse… two mice.

HRH told me that it was incredible to sit there and watch Liam recognise that there should be a collective term for several of one kind of thing, and extrapolate it from a word he’d heard us use. “Language development is so mind-blowing,” he said. “I am so the wrong person to be teaching him this.” Which isn’t true, of course, but points to how overwhelming it can be to observe a small creature learn like this.

6 thoughts on “Thinking It Through

  1. l'exclamation, parbleu

    Can you stab him with something blunt for me every time he says stupid shit like that?



  2. Paze

    This sort of thing always reminds me of how f—ed up the English language is. Because it really should be “mouses”. . . and “brang” and “doos” and “telled.”

    And yes with the observing of small creatures adjusting their very logical linguistic assumptions to this f—ed up language.

  3. Owldaughter Post author

    That’s what I found interesting, actually: he didn’t say ‘mouses’, he said ‘mices’. He’d heard us say ‘mice’, and pluralized it.

    One of my favourite plural stories came from an English prof in university, who talked to us about the effects of multiple cultural invasions on language. Our term ‘children’ is actually a double plural, as ‘childer’ and ‘childen’ are each plurals of ‘child’ in different dialects. So in effect, when we say ‘children’ we’re saying ‘childses’.

  4. Owldaughter Post author

    Double whammy!

    Liam corrected him the other day: Liam said something, HRH said “Yeah”, and Liam said “Yes“, just the way we correct him when he says ‘yeah’. It was hilarious.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *