Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Creative Language of Children (and Adults)

Roughly once a month, our church service is a "testimony meeting", which I suppose could be described in part as an open-mike opportunity for anyone to get up and share knowledge, feelings, and insights about the gospel.  One three- or four-year-old girl bravely stood at the podium today and announced, "I know my mom is true." 

She drew some chuckles with that statement, and I found myself thinking about other cute comments I have heard children say in church.  Once, when I was the chorister in Primary, I was teaching the song, "My Flag".  You can hear the song here.  One of the lines says, "...the banner of the free."  One little girl hopped out of her seat and declared, "I'm three!  I'm three!"  I tried to explain that the song wasn't talking about an age, but rather about freedom, like our ability to choose.  At this point, the same little girl jumped back out of her chair and shouted, "I have shoes!"  By now, all the adults in the room thought she and I were the greatest comedy routine ever, with me playing the unwitting straight man.  Sad to say, but at that point I just gave up.  I'm afraid that little girl probably missed the concepts that the song was trying to tell.

Today's little girl, though, had an accurate understanding of what she was feeling, but just lacked the ability to eloquently express herself.  I find language fascinating.  I find it fascinating that one language might have one word to express what takes a whole sentence in another language to accurately convey.  I find it fascinating that so many times debates ensue due to one party not fully understanding the meaning the other party is giving to a particular word or phrase.  And I have to admit, some of the things I chuckle at the most are statements which, for whatever reason, present an unintended train of thought. 

Case in point:  Friday night, I saw a flier advertising a local gardening workshop.  One of the activities was listed as "Honeybee demonstration and tasting."  Though I'm assuming that meant honey tasting, I just couldn't shake the image of a bunch of people sampling honeybees. 

Now, I hope that I don't hurt anyone's feelings.  I'm certainly not immune to errors in grammar, spelling, or clarity of thought.  Intelligence is not accurately measured by one's ability to communicate. 

I did chuckle today, but I also agree with the little girl:  I know my mom is true. 

Thankful thought for the day:  Thanks to my many friends who learned a non-English language first.  Thanks to children and adults who are brave enough to share their thoughts and feelings, even when words fail to adequately express those ideas. 

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