Say What?


Language acquisition is a complex thing. And if the language being acquired is English (or worse, American), it’s altogether amazing that we develop the ability to communicate in complete sentences at all. Full of traps and complicated verb conjugation and huge, sucking tar pits of inconsistent grammar, English can send those who try to master it howling for mercy.

Why, the comma alone makes me weep. (Or is it “the comma, alone, makes me weep”?)

Anyway, it’s no surprise that most kids, when faced with the monumental task of learning to speak their native tongue, end up utilizing a few “original” constructions. And by and large (with the possible exception of a child who once said to me, when I was pregnant, “Hey, puffy lady!”), they are stinkin’ adorable.

We always think we’ll remember the funny things our kids used to say, but we don’t. So I thought I’d write some of Caleb’s cute verbal inventions down now, while he’s still using them.

The Caleb Lexicon:

*nose carrots–the long, full size carrots (as opposed to baby carrots, which we usually buy), so called because they are the proper carrots for snowman noses.

*cranky talk–the deep, croaky voice that comes out when you have a sore throat.

*the circle store–Target.

*I’m allergic of that!–I don’t like that broccoli/pot roast/cottage cheese and I’m absolutely not going to eat it; further negotiations are pointless. (Another variation: “That makes me cough!” *interject fake coughing here*)

*mommy show–any movie or television show that isn’t animated.

*growed-up girl–woman.

*I don’t wanna see that weird face!(accompanied by hands over the eyes) I can see that you are angry at me, and I want to get out of this mess without a) a lecture, b) a spanking, or c) the creation of a new family rule. Please go away.

*Cookie Lady–the worker behind the bakery counter at Wal-mart who gives Caleb his free Cookie Club cookie. A required stop on the Wal-mart circuit, along with the fish tanks and the toy department.

*she or her–all-purpose pronouns that can refer to anyone from Katie to Santa Claus to Shaquille O’Neal.

*-ed–a suffix that, when added, makes any word past tense. When in doubt, add two for good measure. “Daddy, did you see what I maked-ed?” “But I already goed-ed potty!”

These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head, but every day seems to produce new and different ways of expressing the wild thoughts and feelings that are swirling around inside this tiny observer of the world. Where else can you hear lines like this?:

“Um, I don’t speak girl, Mom.”

“Want to jump inside this book?” (I nod.) “Well, we can do that later, when some fairy godparents get in here.”

“When we get married together, I’ll be the boy and you can be the princess.”  (Such a sweet offer!)

So what are some of the funny things your kids say?


23 responses »

  1. My 2 year old came out with “hor-ry coooooow” the other day! You can imagine what that means! He calls the whole grocery store the “cookie store” and begins calling for a cookie peeees as soon as we hit the door!

  2. We have a countless number of sayings from my nieces and nephews. One of my favorites – when my nephew “C” was little and just starting to talk, he was also still nursing. He called nursing “neece”. One day we caught him on the floor flipping through a Victoria’s Secret catalog, and wide-eyed he said “Yots and yots of neeces!” (Lots and lots of boobies!)

  3. oh my gosh, Bella pronounces the -ed of words too! Drives me batty!

    I love little kid talk when it is part of their learning and experimenting with words.

    However (comma) I cringe when I hear a child say something like: “Hers won’t play with me.” When an adult doesn’t correct it, that’s just WRONG.

  4. Ah Katrina!

    When, oh when, are you and your family going to live next door to me and come over to watch Mommy Shows and have cookies and coffee and teach me how to scrapbook?

  5. Ian’s favorite thing to do right now is to race – anywhere and everywhere! Instead of “I’m going to beat you (insert name here)”, he says “I gonna win you!”. The other 2 think it’s hilarious, but say it to him when they are in a playful mood. It’s so much fun to hear them thumping up the stairs, squeeling “I’m gonna win you!!” to each other.

  6. One of the little ones at our church will say “I want to hold you please.” Which translated means….”I want you to hold me please.” She finally figured it out 😉

  7. Nate used to say, “What you said?” when he wanted you to repeat something. When Thomas was little and Buzz Lightyear was his hero, he loved to repeat Buzz’s catchphrase, “To intinity, and ON!” (“To infinity and beyond!” for those ignorant of animated characters’ catchphrases.)

  8. Katrina, on the subject of punctuation, I am currently reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves and I highly recommend it. A funny book about punctuation. Who would’ve thunk it?

  9. Adam, upon looking out the window after the last big snow fall, said, “Holy Crimony!” And when Josh was two and asked me how old I was and I told him I was 29, said, “Holy Mackerel!” But my favorite was when Adam was 4, I was trying to get him out of the tub and he kept closing the drain plug every time I opened it. I told him that he was going to get spanked if he did it again, and he looked at me with a perfectly straight face and said, “No closing costs, Mom.” (I think he had seen one too many mortgage commercials.)

  10. The big one we are trying to correct right now with Chaselyn (she’s five) is the use of “fer”. Example: “Mom, fer I go to school, I’m having snack day.” Translation: “Mom, when I go to school today it’s my snack day.”

    One of our cats is very overweight and has a big swingin’ belly that she calls the cats “juggly”. “Mom, fer I have a juggly, I’ll eat vegetables.” *sigh* Meaning “Mom, when I have a fat belly, I eat vegetables to lose weight!”

    Several months ago we were going to watch Star Wars and were waiting for Dad to come inside. He came in and then went back outside and Chaselyn said “Daddy was here but he got away!”

  11. I have kids from 5 to 65. I’m teaching English to non-native speakers. I notice that they often make common mistakes, which are the same as those children in America make.

    Of course, some of them make more sense than the correct way. For example, adding ‘-ed’ to the end of verbs for conjugation. Shouldn’t we get rid of most of the irregular verbs?

    One of my students is Brazilian and I noticed she always pronounces the ‘-ed’ clearly in cases where we swallow part of it; such as, ‘baked’.

  12. My son is 10 yrs old now and I wished I had written some of the funniest words he said because now I can’t remember 😦

    I’m glad you got Caleb’s written down here. What fun! What great memories these will hold.

  13. ‘People have the need to know the true believings and the real happenings’ (in context to Biblical teachings) …”channel of mind link” (when two people think the same thing at the same time) … “Grandpa, you’re almost out of your numbers” (when we celebrated my grandfather’s 90th b/d) … “Grandma … when I grow up I want to look just like you … but I want my own skin.” (when my daughter was 4 she observed my mom applying make-up)

    I have written my daughter’s best quotes down in a book for prosperity 😉

  14. My brother would hear a siren and say, “do you hear those lights blinking?” I sometimes think this is less childspeak and more one of the greatest instances of wordplay I’ve ever been privy to,

  15. Alas, I wish that I had recorded more of the sweet things that my children said before they started growing up. I agree with Scott that many things they say are very poetic and truthful.

  16. Oops! One of those sweet, little teenagers submitted my comment before I was finished because he wanted to use the computer. And you know that I am compelled to finish my comments! I wanted to share a few of my remembrances of my boys’ language development. You’ve probably already heard a couple of these.
    When Ian was describing a picture of Pegasus, he called it a “cowboy bird”.
    While I was watching Little Women, Josh told his brother that I was watching Women are Small.
    For the longest time they both referred to blue as “Leonardo”, orange as “Michelangelo”, purple as “Donatello” and red as “Raphael”. Here is an example: “No, I want to wear the Leonardo shirt.”

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