Misunderstandings, a.k.a., weird English revisited


Son:  Mom, in my whole life, I will never defy you.

Mom: (thinking about events that have already occured)  Oh?

Son:  Yes.

Mom:  But…

Son:  (Interrupting)  Well, except when I grow up, we will have to defide.

Mom:  Then you will defy me?

Son:  Yes, we will have to defide.

Mom:  (pause)  What does defy mean?

Son:  Defide?

Mom:  Well, are you saying divide, or defy?  It is true that we will have to divide someday, when you grow up.

Son:  Yes, when I am big we will divide.

Mom:  Defy means when you don’t do what someone says, you go against them.

Son:  (losing interest, heading back out into the backyard)  But when we have to defide, you can still invite me over for dinner sometimes!  


As I’ve talked about before, one of my favorite parts of having kids is the way that kids’ language does not map exactly onto normal adult English.  I think each person actually has his or her own language, with meanings and connotations slightly different, at the edges, from everyone else’s.  But the variations among adults are usually not so charming.


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