How Deep Need Can Lead to Increased Language Complexity

July 10th, 2006

At our big family gathering near Boston last week, one of my nieces -- around four years old -- had this conversation with another of my little nieces (almost two):

Older Niece (excitedly): "Can I feed you?"

Younger Niece (firmly): "No."

A beat, while Older Niece absorbs this rebuff. (All day she's been looking forward to feeding her little cousin, whom she seems to regard as the most amazing, feature-packed doll in the world.) Then:

Older Niece (tentatively): "Can I feed you?"

Younger Niece: "No!"

A long pause, as Older Niece stares plaintively at her tiny relative. Finally:

Older Niece (passionately): "I want you to want me to feed you!"

Entry Filed under: let's digress

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