Maximilian’s themed vocabulary

Zoe’s themed vocabulary



May 2014

The following two pages present the words in Maximilian an Zoë’s vocabulary 0-3 years. They are divided into themed groups for easier analysis. In each themed group, the words appear in the chronological order as they were added by the child. One should keep it in mind that the word-lists are approximate as I could hardly keep up with the speed at which Max and Zoë acquired new words in Swedish and Russian, especially as they approached 3 years. Thus, the lists are incomplete and their only function is to give an idea of how Max and Zoë’s vocabularies developed between 0-3 years.

Max and Zoë’s vocabularies always differed slightly as certain groups of words were absorbed by them at different times. At certain points, some groups of words could be actively used by one child because of his/her interest in that area, whereas the other child could only recognise the same words but never actually actively use them. A good example is the names of different cars. Max knew most types of cars very well by the age of 2 years and 2 months, for example “пожарная машина”/”brandbil” (fire-truck), “скорая помощь”/”ambulans” (ambulance), “мусоровоз”/”sopbil” (garbage-truck), “подъемный кран”/”kran” (crane), “погрузчик”/”lastbil” (truck), etc. Max would point at different cars in the street and scream what they are called in Russian or Swedish. Zoë was never interested in cars, but she could point out the most interesting ones, like cranes.

On the other hand, Zoë was always leading in mastering greetings, parting vocabulary, courtesy expressions, and slang expressions used to express emotions. Thus, at 1 she started greeting almost every stranger with a “Hi!” while we were still living in California. “Tack tack!” (Swe. “Thank you!”) entered her vocabulary at 14 months, and Zoë has been using it religiously in Swedish and Russian (спасибо) ever since. At 3 she is fast to pick up a Russian slang/interjection/particle word “ну” (“well”, “but”):

– Ну мама, я не упаду! (“But Mommy, I will not fall down!”).

When Zoë starts using such a new word/expression, she tends to use it in almost every sentence. This indicates how conscious and deliberate she is about using it.

From this point of view, gender differences in vocabularies were obvious regardless of the fact that both children were exposed to the same books and other language materials, as well as same speakers, but they chose themselves what words to master.

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