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parenting language

An interesting topic I studied in an animal behaviour class was about the concept of culture in animal societies. I started to think about the transmission of culture recently because I noticed that my 4yo daughter Zoe’s childcare playgroup has developed their own culture. When Zoe started to use a new word, I used to assumed that she learned it from the childcare educators. But recently I noticed that the children are teaching each other. For example, Zoe referred to her gym teacher as “torch Aaron” or “toch Aaron” instead of “coach Aaron”. I thought it was her own coinage until I heard other children talking about “toch Aaron”.

Another example is using the word “phew” as a verb. She said “I was playing with Esther and then Samantha came to phew us.” What’s phew? She said it was going “phew phew phew!” Clearly it’s the children’s own word.

Watching these children using their own words was like scientists observing monkeys learn to wash potatoes from each other.