Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Adventures in English

Yesterday I decided that Sabrina needs to learn that "yesterday" means one day ago, not "any time in the past" (e.g. "yesterday Santa came and brought me presents"), and "tomorrow" means the next day, not "any time in the future." Trying to explain this to her did not go well. I gave up before trying to explain that "today" means, well, today. We'll keep working on it.

Last night we were reading a great story (Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney, I highly recommend it) when Sabrina told me that the language in the book was wrong. It says "Mama Llama goes downstairs." "No," Sabrina said. "BE downstairs." Oy.

Today we rode in the elevator with a couple from Spain. In the course of our conversation, Sabrina continued to insist that she doesn't speak English.

We've also defined the following words over the past few days: fret, moan, underpass, and epiglottis. If anyone can remind me of the scientific word for the reason why something will slide if you put it down on top of a film of water, that would be great.


  1. I think it's just friction (or lack of it.) There isn't much friction between the water and whatever is floating on top of it. Or do you mean like between a car and a wet road? I think it's the same idea, just that the water lessens the friction between the tires and the road. If you want to sound fancy, you could mention mu (the Greek letter - the coefficient of friction.)

  2. I think the word you're looking for is "surface tension" - basically, the pull of the water molecules toward each other is stronger than their pull toward the paper, so it slides instead of soaking in.

    It's interesting that Sabrina is insisting she doesn't speak English - we ran into similar things with our daughter when the kids were first with us. She would tell people she spoke other languages (no, knowing the word "Hola" does not make you a spanish speaker), and that she was from all sorts of countries (different ones, depending on the day or mood). There were other fantasies as well. We just gently reminded her of the truth and moved on, but it really confused some teachers and classmates. She eventually outgrew most of it - I figured it was just a coping mechanism to explain her chaos of a life and all the pieces she couldn't understand, as well as a chance for her to feel more "special."

  3. Heather, yes, it was surface tension! Thank you. As for the English thing, sometimes I wonder if she thinks that Dora's second language is English, not Spanish. (And her first language is whatever unnamed language we speak.) The other possibility is that she thinks that "brown people" don't speak English. Not sure. But then again, she is the one who said "yesterday when we went to the zoo" when that trip to the zoo was 6 weeks ago. :-)