Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/803

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783
STUDIES OF CHILDHOOD.

before the verb, as apparently in the following example given by Miss Shinn: A little girl, delighted at the prospect of going out to see the moon, exclaimed, "Moo'-'ky (sky) baby shee" (see).[1] Another kind of inversion occurs when more complex experiences are attempted, as in connecting "my" with an adjective. Thus one child said prettily, "Poor my friends."[2]

These inversions of our familiar order are suggestive. They have some resemblance to the curious order which appears in the spontaneous sign-making of deaf-mutes. Thus a deaf-mute answered the question, Who made God? by saying, "God made nothing"—i. e., "nothing made God." Similarly the deaf-mute Laura Bridgman expressed the petition "Give Laura bread" by the form "Laura bread give,"[3] Such inversions, as we know, are common in certain languages—e. g., Latin. The study of the syntax of child language and of the sign-making of deaf-mutes might suggest that our English order is not the spontaneous or natural order of expression.[4]

A somewhat similar inversion of what seems to us the proper order appears in the child's first attempts at negation. The child C—— early in his third year expressed the idea that he was not going into the sea thus: "No (his name) go in water, no." Similarly Pollock's child expressed acquiescence in a prohibition in this manner: "Baby have papa (pepper) no," where the "no" followed without a pause. The same order appears in the case of French children: e, g., "Papa non"—i. e., "It is not papa," and seems to be a common if not a universal form of the first half-spontaneous sentence-building. Here, again, we see an analogy to the syntax of deaf-mutes, who appear to append the sign of negation in a similar way: e. g., "Teacher I beat, deceive, scold, no"—i. e., "I must not beat, deceive, scold my teacher," In the use of special signs of affirmation the correspondence seems less close. Thus Pollock's child was wont to emphasize a positive statement in this way: "Es, es (yes, yes), baby's book there," The deaf-mute appears in such cases to append the affirmative sign.

Another closely related characteristic of this early childish sentence-building is the love of antithesis under the form of two balancing statements. Thus a child will often oppose an affirmative to a negative statement as a means of bringing out the full


  1. Notes on the Development of a Child, p. 84.
  2. Canton, The Invisible Playmate, p. 32; who adds that this exactly answers to the form "Good, my lord!"
  3. See Romanes, op. cit., p. 116 f, where other examples may be found.
  4. The languages of savages appear to differ like those of civilized races in respect of order, the succession substantive, verb, attributive, as in "John is good," appearing alongside of the inverse—e. g., "Good is John," See article L'Importance des Langues Sauvages, Revue Philosophique, 1894, p. 465 ff.