My daughter’s language

My daughter is very clever at two and one-third years of age. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t surprise and delight me with something new she’s learned. She just returned from a weekend with her grandparents, and proceeded to strut her newly-acquired linguistic stuff.

That a very very big butterfly!

Mummy [com]puter is tiny tiny one!

A missing verb here, an elided article there, sure, but I was amazed at the assured use of repetition for the purpose of intensificatory reduplication. I was stumped as to what to call this, as I started out thinking about reduplication, but wikipedia’s article on it gave me little clue as to whether I was right. Google eventually sent me to the Language Log for the above-linked blog post. Reading the very very good post also let me know why I had such trouble finding a description of the process:

When I realized in 1999 that intensificatory reduplication (of both adjective modifiers in the noun phrase and adverb premodifiers in adjective phrases and adverb phrases) needed to be described in the Adjectives and Adverbs chapter of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, I rummaged around in all the earlier reference grammars I could find to see what they had said about it, and the answer was that the exact facts had apparently never been recorded. What Rodney Huddleston and I wrote for Chapter 6 of The Cambridge Grammar (pages 561-562) was apparently the first description that dealt with both adjectives and adverbs.

It’s strange. The Language Log only came onto my personal radar when it covered LOLCODE, but it now requires an honoured place on my blogroll. My weekend has been filled with it, since I’ve become obsessed with the recent controversy over the Pirahã, as described in the New Yorker. The Language Log’s coverage of Dan Everett’s work has been a great introduction to the topic.