Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Early morning alphabetics.

Blurgh, it is early. And we were up late. I am waiting for Chris to finish getting ready so we can fly home. We hung out with Meri and Noelle playing games with a laser pointer and spelling and dance parties, things you can only do when you are actually or spiritually eight years old (or hanging out with an eight-year-old).

I forget why or in what context (hey, it's early), but at some point Noelle described something as "a bunch of gibberish." Except she didn't say gibberish. She said gibberish! With a hard g. I asked whether she can learned the word from a book -- we've all had moments, children or adults, when we read a word, mispronounce it in our heads, and then say it with the incorrect pronunciation later on in conversation. But no, she insisted, not from a book, but from her mom. She remembers when, and it was recently.

So I started thinking about it.

She hears gibberish (soft g). She internalizes this as initial g (because she knows g can be soft or hard) and she maybe even asks her mom for clarification (consistent with other recent behavior when she encounters new words, plus otherwise the unmarked assumption is for initial j, not g). Later on she retrieves the word for use, has internalized it as having initial g, and comes up with gibberish (hard g) because hard g is the unmarked form.

Makes sense, except who stores new words by spelling unless the new word is learned in a spelled (i.e. written) form? I've never seen this before, and I don't know how to elicit other cases.


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