When my daughter was about two, she had a friend named Muriel who was, to me, amazingly verbal. Muriel would look way up at me and say, "Hi Meredith. How are you?" with perfect diction.
Or at least that's what it sounded like to me, because my toddler wasn't saying much at all.
I guess I could have taken her to the pediatrician, like the worried mother in today's babble.com post but I knew that she could talk when she wanted, but most of the time she liked being silent.
I also knew that all humans talk, even when they don't talk at two. There's only one Canadian family that with a genetic disorder that scrambles their notion of syntax (as in "I ball here put") but everyone else talks. Which emphasizes how fundamental speech is to human evolution.
Language acquisition is also an interesting phenomenon because it's highly variable for the first three years. Then everyone ends up talking a blue streak (like the boy in the babble.com post).
And that's why it's so odd that Americans are so terribly worried these days about their toddlers' linguist ability. This is a new cultural bias and I assume it's a result of parents having fewer kids to focus on and higher expectations for the kids they do have.
But now we have yet another cultural "norm" to make us feel guilty and worried, and in my case, angry.
At a well baby visit those many years ago, the nurse asked how many words my daughter had. Greatly offended by such a stupid yardstick, I growled back, "How should I know? I don't count them." She responded, "We like them to have 20 words by 18 months." And I said "I bet you do."
She then advised, "You should talk to her in more complex sentences," which gained her a lecture on the evolution of human language, and how across the globe all kids talk just fine by the age of three, even in cultures where parents don't directly speak to babies.
"How's that for a few complex sentences, honey," I wanted to add.
My husband then banned me from the pediatrician's office.
But I'd like to take my 15-year-old in there today and let her talk that nurse's ear off using the vocabulary of a graduate student, which she has done since she was three.