I've been enjoying my three-year-old's attempts to grasp English. [...]
Ah, here's my cue to type in an excerpt from a paper about learning to count: K Durkin, B Shire, R Riem, R D Crowther & D R Rutter (1986) The social and linguistic context of early number word use. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, vol 4.
The paper's about the ambiguities care-givers give to young children which can then lead to conflicts in the children's early experiences. The first is a transcript from a video of a parent and child together, counting the video cameras.
parent (to lucy, 24 months): How many? child: Dor parent: That's one (nods slightly towards a camera) child: That's one (points towards same camera) parent: That's two (looks towards a second camera) child: That's two (points towards second camera) parent: Three (looks towards third camera) child: Tree (looks towards third camera) parent: Four (looks towards fourth camera) child: Sor (smiles at parent, hands in lap) parent: One (raises thumb) child: One (waves arm) parent: Two (raises thumb and index finger) child: Two (waves arm) parent: Three (raises thumb, index and middle fingers) child: Sree (waves arm) parent: Four (raises thumb, index, middle and ring fingers) child: Four (hands in lap, smiling) parent: What's that? (raises index finger) child: Two parent: Finger child: Finger parent: And what's that? (raises thumb) child: One two three ror ('one' prounounced empathically) parent: Thumb
parent (to Emma, 30 months): Shall we count them? One yellow one. child: Yellow.
And, finally ...
parent (to Alan, 9 months): The other one, look, one ... two. parent (to Alan, 18 months): Put two in. That's one, that's one. parent (to Amy, 18 months): Look, there's another one. Four.