Category Archives: Book Lover’s Baby

Language Acquisition

I’m sat at home as I type this with a little girl cuddling on my lap. She’ll be two in July. She is mine, I hasten to add… I didn’t kidnap her for the sake of a blog post!

We’re still waiting for her to talk which is the point of this post. She relies almost entirely on /m/ sounds. Now, in fairness, there is a wide range of expression in her /m/s and we can tell the difference between an angry /m/ and a happy /m/ and a naughty /m/ and an asking /m/. Mmmmmm and Mmm? and MMMMmmmmm and mmmmmmmmmm… And she can laugh both spontaneously and with somewhat dramatised /ha/ /ha/ /ha/ sounds. 

She is capable of producing other sounds: we’ve had /d/ sounds which seems lmore like a Simpsons’ “D’oh” rather than anything meaning “dad” but we have had /æ/ sounds, generally in the context of singing Row Row Row Your Boat.  Or, as here, in reenacting scenes from Hammer Horror’s Dracula. 

I have had arguments with both my other daughter and health visitor as to whether these noises constitute ‘words’ or ‘speaking’. Personally, without any sense of consistent semantics, I think they are just noises, experimentation and play. 

Things I’ve learned from Tangled

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This is my little girl’s favourite film… alongside Frozen. And, having watched it frequently this holiday already – often with her in my arms at 5 am

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there are a few things I have learned which, I believe, will be of use in future life…

1) The best parents are silent, even in the face of disease, pain, joy and the loss of their child;

2) Goatees work. Ladies love them!

3) In the event of being evil enough to steal a child, lie about her birthday;

4) Never trust a chameleon;

5) Hair with magical growth and glowing and healing properties is restricted to the head;

6) Magical hair changes length according to the needs of the plot;

7) Using the nickname ‘flower’ for someone named after lettuce leaves is both creepy and makes perfect sense;

8) Floating lanterns solve everything;

9) It is perfectly reasonable that a hook can play the piano;

10) ‘Unarrested’ is a word. Really.

11) Anthropomorphic horse can fight with swords;

12) Changing your name from Flynn to Eugene completely absolves you of a lifetime of thievery;

13) Having suffered one hair-based magical adventure, it is perfectly reasonable to hide and refuse to help when you stumble into a second one. Not selfish at all. It’s fine to let you friend Elsa be driven from her home because of magic.

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14) Mirrors are extraordinarily good at cutting hair;

and finally,

15) Having a male narrator is all you need to mark a film as ‘boy friendly’ and most definitely not a Disney Princess film. Even if Rapunzel was deliberately made a Princess for the film. Which was made by Disney.

Frozen

My daughter loves Frozen.

So much so that we bought it for her. And considering she is only 12 months old, this is quite a big thing! Her first Disney film! It’s likely to have a place in her heart for ever!

And a film in which the “act of true love” which acts as a deus ex machina is familial rather than romantic isn’t a bad role model … especially as her father has banned her dating until she’s 35!

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But there is so much just wrong with this film! I’m not sure where to start! Idina Menzel’s singing voice as Queen Elsa is very high-pitched and shrieky to my old arthritic ears… but I can forgive that. Olaf the talking snowman is on a par with Jar Jar Binks in the annoying sidekick stakes. I’m worried that these trolls appear to be child-snatchers: why did Kristof never return home? Is there some Norweigan Sweatshop racket going on?

The biggest problems I have, however, are these:

1. The Queen has damned Arendelle to an eternal winter, it is declared… And yet it appear that the film takes place over the space of perhaps 24 hours (excluding the backstory montage). Yes, granted, the winter has struck in mid-July or August which doesn’t bode well… but eternal? Really? Inconvenient. Unexpected. Sudden. Unseasonal. I’d have accepted all those and many other adjectives. But one thing the winter patently is not is eternal!

2. Hans. The transition from simpering mooncalf to either hero or villain is utterly unconvincing. The scene I particularly object to is this one

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It is an unguarded moment; no one is watching him; he’s hidden by the boat. To prepare us for the eventual villainy, to introduce an element of cohesion and pre-figuration a mocking sneer was needed. Instead, we get that simpering smile.

The reason for these discrepancies appears to be on account of a song. According to IMDB

Originally, Queen Elsa was intended to be the villain of the story. However, when the character’s major song, “Let it Go,” was played for the producers, they concluded that the song was not only very appealing, but its themes of personal empowerment and self-acceptance were too positive for a villain to express. Thus, the story was rewritten to have Elsa as an isolated innocent who is alarmed upon learning that her powers are inadvertently causing harm and struggles to control her powers with Anna’s help.

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I’m imagining the Disney think tank as they decided to make Elsa scared rather than malicious and the need to have some form of antagonist… Whereupon Hans was shoehorned into the role somewhat uncomfortably.

Would it not have been better to re-write the song and give it to Elsa?

No. I’m sorry, Disney. But if you want a good intelligent reworking of The Snow Queen, you need to read The Girl With The Glass Feet by Ali Shaw, my review of which is here.

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2013 on the blog

So these are my stats from the last year’s worth of blogging!

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A good, decent upwards trend here which is great.

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Not a wholly unexpected geographic spread of readership at the top: English speaking and Western. But I am impressed that there are significant (for me anyway, probably not for the rest of you blogosphere illuminati) in Iraq and Saudi Arabia!

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Some interesting gaps in the overall map though: it’s no surprise that China’s still a blank white gap with its internet paranoia but I want to get more Nigerian views. I adore Nigerian Literature, history and culture so I’d like more followers there. And Greenland. Why can I got get into Greenland?!

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And my most popular blog post is about an arcane and archaic grammatical structure.

I am going to change my blog pattern for 2014, I think: currently I have a number of different ones which I have tried to keep focused on individual themes but I’m planning on bring most of those into this blog. The Book Lovers’ Sanctuary will remain just for book reviews; and the Book Lover’s Kitchen just for recipes – mainly because I’d forget things otherwise. The main difference will really be the addition of my incessant gushing and cooing over 2013’s star arrival, my daughter.

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