Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Tie" is also a kind of Spanish...

My five-year-old daughter Kira and I had a race to see who could get his/her seat belt on first after my church basketball game Thursday night. I gave her a five-second head start, which was just right for our seat belts to click at the same time.

"It's a tie," I told Kira.

After celebrating her near-victory, Kira said, "Hey! Ty is in my class."

Perhaps because I've been thinking so much about language lately on my Mormon Midrashim blog, I decided to use the opportunity to talk about words with multiple definitions. I did not burden her with any discussion of the bizarre and inexplicable spelling differences between words that sound exactly the same.

"What else can 'tie' mean?" I asked her.

"Like the kind of tie you can wear" she said, and made motions to indicate a necktie.

"Good!" I said. "What else?"

She got stuck, then, so I pointed out that you can tie a bow, and talked about how cool it is that a word can be something you do (a verb) and a thing (noun). I thought that distinction might be a bit advanced for her age, but figured I'd mention it anyway.

She was quiet a moment, then said, "Tie is also a kind of Spanish."

I was incredibly confused. I think she noticed.

"It's the kind of Spanish they speak where Judith lives," Kira said, "in Thailand."

And I'd thought I had something to teach her about the way words can overlap and take on multiple meanings!


  1. Out of the mouths of babes...

    Speaking of babes:

    My wife had a baby girl on Sunday. We're naming her Nellie.

  2. You know, for some reason I find myself wanting to speak French every time I hear someone speaking a language other than English. It's like my brain processes all language as English, and Not-English. My cat is that way about food: everything is chicken, or not-chicken. Binaries are such funny things.


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