It’s a Little Monkey’s world

The Little Monkey is a talkative young simian, and I thought it’d be interesting to use his vocabulary to reflect on his interests, on the eve of his second birthday. I only consider words that he says, rather than those I judge him to understand; and I include words where his pronunciation might only be comprehensible to Mrs. Monkeyshines and I. Writing down all the words that he knows would be tedious in the extreme, so I picked a subset of words beginning with certain letters. As a scientist, I know this skews the results in an unpredictable way, but since this blog isn’t peer-reviewed, I think I can get away with it. There are just over 100 words in the corpus, which is not enough to draw firm conclusions, but I shall do so anyway…

I expected the list to be dominated by nouns, and it is (75%), but I didn’t realise the Little Monkey knew so many verbs (17%); the remaining portion is a small set of adjectives, adverbs, and exclamations. Many of the nouns don’t fall into neat categories, but some do, and highlight what constitutes the Little Monkey’s sphere of interest. 17% are items of food (fruit: 4%), and 13% are household objects; clothes, body-parts, and colours all register too, albeit with low percentages due to the small sample size.

A twitcher-in-training?

‘People’ (9%) and places (4%) account for another chunk of words. ‘People’ is in quotes because he doesn’t have any friends whose name begins with the chosen letters, but he does know a bunch of fictional characters’ names. A couple are from books, one is the elephant on his changing mat, but most are from TV programmes.

Children’s TV and books are crammed with different animals, and it’s no surprise that they make up 12% of his vocabulary; perhaps more unexpected is that half of those are different types of bird. If he becomes a renowned ornithologist in later life, we’ll be able to say it all started here…

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