A Bilingual Child: The longest word

English: Underwater portrait of a Green Turtle...

A turtle’s head (Wikipedia)

In the continuing adventures of learning two languages at the same time, our son, Mr. T, has broken his own personal record.  He now has new longest word in his quickly expanding repertoire.

The word is ‘tartaruga which means ‘turtle’ in Portuguese.  At four syllables long it should be quite an achievement, except the way Mr. T pronounces it it doesn’t always come in at four syllables as he often drops the last syllable so that it sounds like ‘tartaru’.

The other problem we have with the word is what it refers to.  I can see the problem with deciding on the difference between a tortoise, a turtle and terrapin.  But he has also been applying it to other things as well, including a frog inflatable in the swimming pool and a jigsaw picture of a dinosaur.

This shows that he is going through a process of learning a new item of vocabulary and then learning how to apply it and fine tune his understanding.  This is something that I have noticed when learning and teaching a second language to adults, so it isn’t really a surprise that we should do it with our first languages as well.

His new longest word also ties quite nicely into the fact that I am watching the box sets of Breaking Bad at the moment and I am half way through the third series.  Please don’t watch this if you are squeamish or are afraid of spoilers.

Further Reading

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress cover

So after taking quite a long time to read my last book, I fairly sped through the next one: ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ by Robert A. Heinlein.  Set in the near future, the moon has been used as a penal colony by all the major countries on earth, rather as Australia was by the British.  The people who live up there now want to be independent but have a number of serious disadvantages.  Their one secret advantage is that they have the first computer ever to become self-aware.  This is a good book which was easy to read and exactly the type of thing I was looking for.

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