Thursday, November 29, 2007


...with a slightly-lingual-in-two-languages toddler(is there a word for that?)

Paula (at shelves, arms stretching up to show need for something out of reach): Apuka! [Dad] Puzzle!
Me: You want me to get you a puzzle?
Paula (nodding furiously): Igen! [Yes]
Me: Would you like the big puzzle or the small puzzle?
Paula: Igen!
Me (patiently): The big one or the small one?
Paula (still nodding furiously): Igen! Igen!
Me: Would you like the b-i-g puzzle or the s-m-a-l-l puzzle?
Paula: Igen!
(pause, light of understanding begins to dawn in her eyes, looks at me, and says very slowly and deliberately, as if to an idiot) Yes.


GadjoDilo said...


In terms of first-order predicate logic, Paula is probably correct. If she wants one of the puzzles – either the big one (b) or small one (s) - then her reply "yes" (or, indeed "igen") represents the truth value in all circumstances:

( paulawants(b) ∨ paulawants(s) )

The truth value of this will also be fulfilled if she wanted both puzzles, as, indeed, any acquisitive toddler might. However, if your request presupposes exclusive disjunction:

( paulawants(b) p ⊕ q paulawants(s) )

her reply will not represent the truth value if she wanted both puzzles. This is a failure of language than of logic. If the Hungarian language has a separate words for “or” and “exclusive or”, which would help a lot!


Veronica Khokhlova said...


i love the "slightly-lingual-in-two-languages" definition.

i've taught marta (who turns 2 today) the difference between big and small by pointing first at my own nose - mama's nose bolshoi (in low-pitched voice, BAALSHOOOOI) - and then at hers - marta's nose malenkiy (high-pitched, maaaaalenkiiiy).

i've recently started recording her voice - on my cell phone, mainly - interviewing her - that's what my father did when i was a kid - and i really love listening to those recordings and hope it'll be as fun for marta when she grows up.

paula is turning 2 sometime soon, isn't she?

best of luck to you and your family! said...

Hmmm...sounds to me like she's just keeping the ways of women a mystery, as is her duty...even at her age! :) Way to go, Paula!

Andy H said...

gd: When she can talk properly I'm sure that she'll explain her logic in exactly that way. :-)

veronica: thanks. Yes, Paula will be 2 in three weeks. Every day a new word, every day a new trauma ;-)

Thanks Julie. I didn't know you had a blog! The things one discovers.