Analytic languages and their function. (4)

dcyr at dcyr at
Wed May 31 15:31:40 UTC 2006

A propositional example, yet showing the same principles Lisa and Aya mentioned
is a whole proposition uttered by a two-year old and that hardly has the
meaning of a single word.

In French the form for "please" is still the whole proposition "s'il vous plait"
('if it pleases you'). Children are trained to use that proposition as a
necessary word or sound sequence to get what they want. Parents call it "the
magic word" and of course toddlers have no idea of what they are uttering
except that it makes them get what they ask for. So indeed it is a magic word!

Similarly, my grandson Ulysse, at the age of two and a half asked his dad to
play a video tape for him. Just as my son was introducing the tape in the
machine Ulysses said: "D'abord il faut le rembobiner! (First we have to rewind
it!)" And my son replied: "You're right, first we have to rewind it."  And
immediately Ulysses asked his dad: "Daddy what does it mean "First we have to
rewind it?" Which indicates that Ulysses was not conscious of uttering a
proposition. For him it was only a ritual word, another magical word, necessary
to be uttered if one wanted the video tape to played.

Regards to all,
Danielle E. Cyr

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