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Friday, February 10, 2006


Nothing to me is as cute as a small child using big words. Ever heard a 3 year old pronounce ‘extravagant’ flawlessly, or ‘I’d rather not’ instead of simply no?
Less cute are kids who pick up certain big (meaning nr 2) words from their parents when the latter ones are feeling sad, angry or frustrated.
You may think kids don’t pick up words that are never addressed directly to them, but if everytime you’re angry you swear in the kitchen, sooner or later little one will associate that word with being angry an before you know it little one comes home with a note from school.
A few years ago I was working somewhere and there was this room full of boorish men that used swear words regardless of what mood they were in, it was simply remarkable how they managed to fit in a big word in whatever sentence they uttered.
Weirdly they were quite friendly and very hearty people, I regularly got a hug and they greeted me every morning in a very welcoming manner, only the wording was chosen oh so poorly.

After they got to know me, quiet persona careful to speak pleasant language, they didn’t change their language, but after each curse word they apologized, one went as far as to apologize beforehand.

I've always heard this type of language, albeit in a more moderated dosages, here and there.
But then it was completely new to me to meet people who use these words as adjectives, verbs and superlatives.
Whose English is not about yes’s and no’s but saturated with very unoriginal alternatives.
Who’s to blame?
I met the father of one and he seemed much more refined, he spoke Hebrew with me so perhaps that may have been a reason?
If it’s not education, is it TV that is to blame?

Although shocked, I wasn’t very alarmed then.
Now I am concerned however, kids know these words, some even know the underlying meaning of the words.
A Jewish child is supposed to speak as a child and their vocabulary shouldn’t include words that they can’t say in front of adults for fear of punishment.
I watch TV, but there’s no questions it’s a bad influence on kids, generally speaking but equally religiously.
Has it also become nefarious for their language?

When I was small we picked u interesting words from TV shows, words when used would make our parents marvel at the knowledge of them, today the marvel is turning into frowning.
Have you been taken aback by the language of little ones? What can be done to prevent further deterioration?

2 stories:

1. I was changing a car tire with my daughter "helping" me. I was barefooted and managed to drop the spare on my foot, at which point I began hopping around the other foot while clutching the injured extremity in my hands, all the while weaving an elaborate verbal tapestry of profanity. My 4-year-old daughter, wide-eyed, said, "Daddy, you said bad words!" My only reply was, "Yes, I did, dear, and I never want to hear you say those words yourself, but right now, they're makind daddy feel a little bit better."

2. A friend's daughter was at a day care run by a particularly teetotaling denomination here in town. The children were pretending to be in the grocery store, pushing the plastic shopping cart around the room and putting items into it. When she came to the "checkout counter" she began placing the shopping cart items on the counter and suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, sh-t! I forgot the beer!"
Lewis-Well answered, considering the circumstances, in story nr one, the good thing is that at least she understood these words were bad!
Story 2 is a perfect example of what I meant
Thanks for sharing these stories.
Having grown up in a family where it is thought that a little colorful language never hurt anybody, I am interested in the points you raised. Maybe what isn't meshing for me is that though I don't often use these words myself, I also haven't heard little kids use them. I think you're right. Once that starts happening, something has to be done. The only thing that I can think of to do would be for the parents to watch their own language. Obvious, maybe, but what made the problem will for sure take care of it.

Have a good shabbos.
I had to think of my nephew and my sister when I read your post. My nephew is very well behaved and educated and would never use a bad word in front of the family (I have no clue if he does use them in kindergarten or school or among friends, I never heard him say anything). This is for sure my sisters education and teaching of values. The amazing thing is that when I am alone with my sister she may say a few bad words here and there, she is not an angel. But never ever in front of her son. When he was little and he tried out the boundries she made him pay 1 swiss franc for every bad word. So as an intelligent young boy he would not say those words. Whenever we sat at the table and one of us (his oncle and aunts and grandparents) would use a bad word - he made us pay him!!! He actually taught us not to use bad words :)))
Shavuah Tov

When my children were small they wanted to shock me by using rude words. Later they told me they nicknamed me *oblivious*. I wasn't oblivious, I just chose to ignore them. I didn't want to be on their backs and one of those mothers always telling off their children. I took the view that if I choose to ignore them, they'll give up...... they did.

You asked who is *Bobby*? Bobby is a television character, Detective Robert Goren, played by the awesome actor Vincent D'Onofrio. I have another blog, http://mrsbgoren.blogspot.com where I write stories as his wife. I should have posted the poem I wrote there, as Hannala is really more about me.

lotsa luv ann xxxxx
A few years ago I was involved in a youth movement and quite honestly, the way the kids talked sometimes was pretty awful. These children were old enough to know it was bad but you wonder where they learn it from. School? Friends? Older kids? Parents even? As leaders we were supposed to set a good example for the kids. Swearing and cursing was done when the younger ones weren't around... or at least we hoped not.

Recently though, I had the misfortune to witness someone swearing at a little kid for no good reason. I was shocked at this because any responsible adult would never say that and to top it off, it was in close proximity with a shul where people were davening. Since then I have no desire to be around that person as such language in such a place and in front of children is a terrible example and shows a complete lack of respect on several levels.

While I do try to set a good example and be careful with what I say, sometime a 'big word' or three does help me feel better, like in the car at someone who is driving badly!

Nevertheless, if children are constantly exposed to ugly language it starts to sound normal, sound ok to some extent due to desensitisation because of the common-ness of the language. The adults who say things need to realise the damage it causes and try to change or at least avoid bad vocab in front of impressionable littlies. It is an unnattractive trait in anyone and is not 'cool' at all and it becomes uncomfortable to be around people who speak like that, even if they do apologise for saying it!

Thanx Pragmatician for the excellent topics for discussion. Especially this one, it's something that's bothered me for a while.
You know what I find discouraging..?
You can teach your children for 25 years to talk nicely...and after 2 months in a vulgar office...they'll be cursing like a sailor. I've seen it happen..
I taught in a preschool and it is amazing what these 4-5 year olds pick up. One kid accidentally hurt herself and cursed ($h!t) I asked her where she learned that word she said "my mommy she always say that". Parents-be aware, the kids repear everything you think you keep private.
Another thing I'd like to mention: I just watched the movie called "The Man". It was hysterical. this guy advises that after saying the "F" word he should say "crying out loud" so it should sound like "for crying out loud" it was a funny movie but the point still remains.
Our children have so many forces in their lives that influence them. I agree, the home is a primary one, but then there are the friends, the internet, the television, friends of friends, etc.

We all end up with unclean hands in one way or another.
of course I want my children to use elegant clean language . This is of course all part of a bigger picture of elegant clean deeds: sharing, non-violence, not raising one's voice etc-its all part of the education process
I have so much to say! yes, it is cute when kids repeat big words. I have a girl in my class that does that and it's the cutest thing! As adults, we must realize that kids are sponges. They will pick up everything we say and we need to be very careful. Tv being an influence is another problem. There is another child in my class (who I would say has a lot of emoional problems anyway) who makes statements such as this: "I want to throw william in the water so the crocodiles can eat him," "I want to kill my mother." Ps- he's 4.
It's really scary. I can't exactly call his mother and tell her not to let him watch tv. that wouldn't go over well. All his prtend play is violent and can be attributed to some tv show or movie (can you guess what he was referring to with the crocodiles?) What can we as a society do?
I had to tell you because u aare my blogging friedn
my indian friend ahs written about me
a whole post
best regards
"mindbogglin" he latest I heard from a 4 years old.
I am so sensitive to cursing myself... I dislike it immensely when someone curses... I hate getting desensitized to it. Whenever someone curses in fron of my 3 year old I get very upset. The damage cannot be undone. Infuriating!
you know, i don't think that language is deteriorating. i think it is changing, but that change is not always for the worse, it is just different
you know, i don't think that language is deteriorating. i think it is changing, but that change is not always for the worse, it is just different
it's so true. there's fine line between the time that you think you can get away with saying whatever you want in front of your little ones, and the time that you actually must stop and really think about what you're about to say. i have an almost four year old, and we even have to monitor our political discussions, substituting words for words that aren't even swear words, out of fear that she might repeat what we say to the wrong audience.
great post.
Parents do make an impression on their children. You have to watch every word or they will pick it up in a flash. My son used to ride with his dad occasionally when he would go out on a job. When my husband would get up set with a wacky driven in would say an explitive and one day my son said the same word in the same situation. My husband was shocked and I reminded him that little ones have ears. Well, the next time they were riding together my husband said, "Way to go clown" and that changed that phrase. Use your imagination on what word was replaced.

As far as bad language goes, it's everywhere. I choose to watch movies or TV shows that don't use the bad language. The big f word I will not tolerate and will not watch a movie that spouts it out like candy. We just have to teach our children that certain words will not be tolerated and make sure that we don't use those same words.
Parents have a tough time but i like the way you find a wow factor in lifes small things .You are a very lucky man Prag.
Patt-why have you enabled team memebers only on your blog.
One of my kids (about 4 years old at the time) started a sentence with "Actually...."
Have you ever seen that Welch's Great Juice ad? It uses the same idea.. really cute little kids using big words.. it has always been a recipe of humor:-)
My three yr old niece one day tells me that she has beautiful hair. I Wonder where she got that from! They are so innocent, its so cute!
Kids are like sponges - they absorb EVERYTHING that goes on around them. Don't underestimate their capacity for anything - they use their grey cells much more than everyone else, just make sure its not filled with rubbish from an early age.
Despite all the 'difficulties', I really want my own kids soon.
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