More on early talking

I wrote in April about the progress our youngest 2 grandchildren were making in learning to talk, when they were 20 months and 13 months. I wrote an update in September about how the older one was getting on, just after her 2nd birthday.

Here is a further update. They are now 26 months and 19 months.

26 months

When I last reported our granddaughter’s progress, she had clearly gone from the 1-word stage to the 2-word stage. Now, just a couple of months later, she is producing phrases much longer than just 2 words. One example I heard was ‘want go in there’. This example:

  • ·      combines 2 verbs (‘want’ and ‘go’) into a sequence. (I couldn’t hear clearly whether she said ‘want to go’, as adults would or just ‘want go’.)
  • ·      includes a directional locative phrase ‘in there’. I had the impression this was a 2-word sequence (‘in there’), rather than a single unanalysed word (‘inthere’), but I can’t be sure.

I didn’t hear clearly whether she said ‘want go in there’ or ‘me want go in there’, with ‘me’ added as the subject. (As I have said before, young children often go through a stage of using ‘me’ as the subject of a verb where older children and adults use ‘I’.)

Complex verb structures

Another more complex structure she is now using involves the verb ‘give’, mentioning both the thing being given and the recipient. I didn’t notice, though, whether she was using it in the form ‘give it to you’ or ‘give you it’.

The English verb give is more complex than a simple transitive verb that just takes a subject and a direct object (eg she reads the book). But it is nowhere near as complex as the many Japanese verbs about giving.


She is interested in colours. I pointed at some grass and asked her what it was. She said ‘grass’. I then asked her what colour it was, and she said ‘green’. I then asked her what colour my jumper was, and she said ‘blue’.

In this respect, she is unlike her oldest cousin, who showed no interest at all in colours until much later—probably well past his 3rd birthday. On the other hand, he was obsessed with numbers and long before his 2nd birthday he could recognise 2-digit numbers and count confidently.


In September she could understand the concepts of ‘one’ and ‘two’. She is now clearly starting to get the concepts of somewhat larger numbers, and to be able to recognise and produce the words.

Vocabulary and pronunciation

She seems to have learnt a lot of new words in the last couple of months. One that struck me was broccoli.

As I said before, she pronounces words very clearly, perhaps more clearly than many children of that age. She hasn’t yet attained an adult pronunciation. One example that struck me this time was ‘blue’, which she pronounces as ‘boo’ (deleting the 2nd consonant [l] from the initial consonant cluster). I’ve written before about consonant clusters produced by our middle grandson (then aged 3 years, 11 months).

19 months

Our youngest grandson is now 19 months. He is still at the 1-word stage, just producing single words, not phrases. His pronunciation is still fairly indistinct, so it is not always possible to tell what word he is trying to produce, or even whether he intends a sound to be a word at all. He pronounces the names of his brothers reasonably clearly, no doubt through constant use.


His understanding is now very good. For example, he took something from the table and brought it to me. I asked him to put it back on the table and I didn’t point at the table, which was behind him.  He immediately turned round, went back to the table and put the object back on the table.


He understands the word ‘no’ and what it means. He doesn’t like being told not to do something. He gets into a furious rage if you use the word ‘no’ in telling him not to do something.

He also understands that ‘don’t’ is also a negative and that it is telling him not to do something. But, oddly, he reacts much less strongly if you tell him clearly not to do something but without using the word ‘no’.

Vocabulary and pronunciation

One of his favourite toys is a donkey. He calls it ‘do’ (pronounced like ‘dog’, but without the [g]). He also uses the same pronunciation for ‘dog’, though he clearly knows that they are different words.

When he wants something very much, he shouts very loudly a word sounding like [mummer]. This could be a version of Mummy, but he seems to use it whenever he wants anything—whether or not his mother is present or otherwise involved in any way.

A theatrical gesture

He produces one striking gesture that is very reminiscent of something his oldest brother did for a few months after his 2nd birthday. (I don’t remember when he started.) If he wants to tell you he doesn’t know where something is, he stretches his arms out sideways, with the palms facing up and puts an exaggeratedly quizzical expression on his face. And if he is just pretending not to know where it is, he exaggerates even more the gesture and the facial expression.

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