I can't believe no-one told me about the CHILDES database of "transcript and media data collected from conversations between young children and their playmates and caretakers." Here's a short conversation from the Japanese section:

1022	*TAI:	poppo [>] . 
1023	%mor:	n:mot|poppo=train .
1024	*TMO:	sore [<] kyuukyuusha da yo . 
1025	%mor:	n:deic:dem|sore n|kyuukyuusha v:cop|da&PRES ptl:fina|yo .
1026	*TAI:	kjekje@u [: kyuukyuusha] . 
1027	%mor:	n|kyuukyuusha .
1028	*TMO:	un . 
1029	%mor:	co:i|un .
1030	*TMO:	kyuukyuusha . 
1031	%mor:	n|kyuukyuusha .
1032	*TMO:	pipopipopipopipoo@o tte . 
1033	%mor:	onoma|pipopipopipopipoo ptl:quot|tte .
1034	*TAI:	&=laugh . 
1035	*TAI:	poppo . 
1036	%mor:	n:mot|poppo=train .

(Transcription format details [PDF].)

"Train!" "That's an ambulance." "Ambwa." "Right, an ambulance. It goes 'Wee-oo-wee-oo-wee-oo-wee-oo.'" "Haha!... [But seriously,] train." In another transcript this same kid shakes his mother down for two hundred yen while the researcher eggs him on. Confucius wept.

In related news, did you know that out west when parents play peekaboo with their kids, they say "Oran, oran, otta" instead of "Inai, inai, baa"? That's what you get for linking the game to verb forms, I guess. It would be fun if it varied by region in the English-speaking world, too: "Fuckin' peekaboo as, mate," for Oceania, "Hey! I'm peekin' a boo here!" for New York...

Popularity factor: 11

Robert Seddon:

Technical glitch: for some reason I'm seeing some comments from /blog/2009/11/big_brother_is_plusunnew.html displayed here on /blog/2009/11/kyekye.html

Tim May:

Me too. The RSS feed does seem to be working again, though. (Well, as well as it ever did. I don't actually see any of the article in the feed aggregator, even though it seems like it's meant to be in there.)


I thought it was hilarious that LDR was still talking about potato purée. I hope he continues to press the issue even after the comments are fixed.


Yeah, LDR, give me a break about the potatoes already.

Seriously, I know what's causing this, but can't fix it until I get home. Enjoy the surreal thread beginnings while you can.


I laughed at the first comment coming back from an alternate commenting universe. Almost seems like a heckle.

Anyhow, this babytalk is great stuff. Especially if you have a baby that communicates on the same level as Sloth from "The Goonies".


Ah, little Tai.
Seeing this makes me wanna dig out the report, on the relative age of acquisition of potential modality by Swedish and Japanese infants, I wrote based on these very data.


All right, you wise guys, the error is now fixed.

Alex: You totally should dig that out. It belongs in the comments to this post.


It is even more surreal (or something) when it's your own comment about potatoes that shows up in a new thread.

This is not potato spam!


"This is not potato spam!"

Most disappointing side of hash *ever*.


Yesterday I was called Alex to my face and today I find myself being called Alex on the Internet. I should change my name to avoid the confusion ;)

Anyway, the report was dug up and here is a short resume.
I tested the hypothesis that Swedish children who (like English speaking children) only have acquire one auxiliary verb and its inflections - kunna: kan, kunde, kunnat - to express potential modality for all verbs would exhibit a high and stable frequency of potential modality very soon after the appearance of the first tokens while the Japanese children would exhibit a more gradual increase in the use of potential modality since they have to acquire a couple of different patterns of potential verb inflections.

The hypothesis was supported for present/future constructions but the difficulty to judge if tokens of dekiru in perfective or progressive aspect (dekita/dekiteiru) were really expressions of potential modality made the results inconclusive.


When I was a kid in Japan's Wild West, we used to say Oran, Oran, Oxenfree, during hide-and-seek.... Or maybe my memories have turned to potato puree.

Comment season is closed.