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Post by Phil White » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:09 am

Kat's posting on bunny reminded me of something I read recently while poring over some books on language acquisition.

Linguists studying language acquisition in young children identified a peculiar phenomenon whereby young children who are not yet able to pronounce words in the same way as adults will nevertheless not accept the same pronunciation from adults.

[Child] Look, a wabbit!
[Parent] Yes, it's a wabbit.
[Child] No, a wabbit.
[Parent] Yes, it's a rabbit.

The same phenomenon also goes under the name of the "fis" phenomenon ("fis" for "fish").

The observation is used to support the assumption that a child's perception is in advance of her production.

Well, it entertained me, but I am easily amused.
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The "wabbit" phenomenon

Post by Shelley » Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:41 pm

Phil, this reminds me of an under-researched theory that children actually have a prenatal language in common, from which many of our new words spring. For example, when I was really little, my word for the tiny bits of pulp floating around in orange juice was "queep queeps". Today, science names teeny-tiny particles "quarks" and even "quee-quarks". Just a thought.
There has been research on this theme in the field of music: it's been shown that children all over the world recognize and use that little sing-song, taunting group of notes (I don't know how to write them here, but I'll bet you know what they are). Without any outside influence, they just do it.
Don't ask me to quote sources. I have no idea when and where I read this stuff -- probably somewhere in the pages of Quack's Gazette.
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The "wabbit" phenomenon

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:16 am

In some cases the fis phenomenon can persist into adulthood, as exemplified by the following:

[President] Hi there folks! Please call me Dubya!
[Voter] Pleased to meet you, Dubya!
[President] No, I said Dubya!
[Voter] Very well then, have it your way, Double-You!

In this instance the assumption that the speaker's perception exceeds his capacity for production is more open to question.
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