Duck

I continue to ponder language acquisition and how impossible it seems. Take, for example, the word “duck.” We say “duck” a lot around here, as Edith has many ducks in her life, but the ducks are so distinct as to really have nothing in common — she hears the word “duck” while looking at photos of actual ducks, black-and-white line drawings of ducks, cartoon ducks of all stripes — some wearing clothes, others working on a construction site or in a salon, rubber ducks of every conceivable size and color and sporting different garb. The other night, I was showing Edith her bathtime duck, which is blue and holds an Easter egg and paintbrush, and saying “duck” repeatedly, and it suddenly struck me how difficult we make it for babies to figure out what the fuck a duck even is. I mean, it would seem from Edith’s perspective like a duck could be basically anything.

And this is what we consider a very basic vocabulary word. How does anyone ever learn how to talk.

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