So I’m talking to this chick, and she’s telling me she thinks her baby knows what her name is. The baby’s only a few months old, so there’s clearly no way this is possible.
Babies don’t come out of the box equipped with the ability to parse statements in the language of their parents. This means that it’s just as easy for the baby to select someone’s name from a bunch of gibberish which happens to be English for me to select someone’s name out of a sentence spoken in Swahili. I do not KNOW Swahili, so I would have no idea of knowing which bunch of syllables is a proper name. I wouldn’t know which words represent verbs and I wouldn’t know which words represent nouns. I’m not saying “if I were a few-months-old-baby”… I’m saying RIGHT NOW! 😀 I would have NO IDEA what someone is saying in a language that I don’t understand. The only way I would have a chance is if the name in that language is similar to a name in English, the language that *I* speak and understand. That comes from years of hearing and understanding people’s names as well as having a grasp of the English language, as well as being more than a few months old.
This is why you can teach babies any language you want. They don’t come out with abilities in English, Swahili, French… none of that. The baby learns language from whomever teaches the baby language. First of all, babies don’t understand that people are called by NAMES at all. That’s a construct. If people called each other by numbers, this same person would swear that the baby knew that that set of numbers pertained to her. 😀 Every time someone uttered those numbers in that sequence, the baby would think they were talking about her. This assumes that the baby understands numbers. This assumes that the baby understands sequences. This assumes that the baby can parse sentences. This assumes a lot of things that just aren’t true.
I’m sure women would LOVE TO BELIEVE that their children know their names the first time the doctor slaps them, hahaha but it’s just not true. Also, it assumes that people call that woman the same thing over and over. What if people call her different things in front of the baby? I’ve gone to a few places where someone foreign to American customs was not aware that Bill is another name for William. They had NO IDEA that both of those names refer to the same person. These were GROWN PEOPLE in service-industry jobs. Why is it that they had no idea it’s the same name? Because it’s not in their custom… It’s not what they grew up with. They also wouldn’t know that Chuck is a name for Charles or that Dick is a name for Richard (Dick Nixon?). Similarly, babies don’t come equipped with the understanding that when someone utters several syllables in a row, or even worse, one syllable made up of a couple of consonants and a vowel, that it’s a representation of ANYONE, including their own mothers.
If you believe this is true, feel free to record someone saying your name over and over, and see how many times your baby thinks that recording is talking about you. 😀 Maybe have someone hold your baby and have them say your name over and over and see how many times your baby looks in your direction. Better yet… have someone say your name in Swahili, since you think babies understand languages they haven’t been taught yet right off the bat! 😀