When we were children, we naturally learned our native language, and as adults we are fluent, competent speakers. But now, it is almost impossible to look back and remember exactly how we learned to speak.
In this book, we are aided by children so we can peak into “what language looks like inside our heads” so that we can discover the “mechanics of how we learn language” that we have forgotten. Children are right in the mist of building language through trial-and-error. Children don’t just repeat what they hear from adults, but they are surprisingly logical in their attempts at trying out and putting together language, earning them the title of “little linguists”.
This book is written with the concept of going along on an adventure with these little linguists, and contains reports of actual speech and statements made by children. This is not a textbook for the systematic learning of linguistics, but covers a surprisingly wide range of topics such as “sound”, “formation of words”, “grammar”, “meaning of words”, “meanings behind words”, and “awareness of language”, all of which are related to linguistics.
Letting children lead us, let’s take another walk down the roads we have traveled that have lead us to where we are now. We can learn about the deep knowledge contained in words, and all the fun things that happened in our minds when we acquired them. And if you go further down that road, you may find your way into a whole new exciting world of linguistics!
(Written by Yuki Hirose, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences / 2017)