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Counting and Colors
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tiger_spot
Morgan has gotten interested in counting things recently. Since she's been focusing on it, she's getting better very quickly, so I had better record the adorable mistakes now before she zooms past them.

Her first number word was "two", and she used it for any group of more than one.

Then she got "three", and started counting small groups like this: "Two, three, two, three, two. TWO!"

Now she is starting to get the idea that the numbers go in an order, and has picked up four and five (although I don't think she's said "one" yet). She is getting better at pointing at all of the objects in a group, and at pointing at each one only once, although that is clearly going to be a long road.


She's also been learning colors. For a long time, if you asked her what color something was, she'd say "blue". Now she'll probably say "purple", or if you've been asking her a string of colors and telling her the right answer each time she'll often repeat the most recent color. However, she can answer questions like "Do you want the purple shoes or the brown shoes?" with the correct color word, without seeing the shoes, so I'm not sure what's up with that. Maybe she understands color words as indicators for specific familiar physical objects, but hasn't actually figured out what generalized characteristic they refer to?
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Her first number word was "two", and she used it for any group of more than one.

This is splendidly logical: two = more than one, therefore more than one = two. It's inarguable. (Also, it reminds me of how cats count: nose, ears, nose-and-ears, paws, whiskers! - where whiskers! is a terribly big number and should probably be run away from.)


Or Watership Down rabbits, who have "one, two, three, four, hrair."

"Hrair" is actually a terribly useful number; I use it for, "One of those amounts of something where you can't exactly see at an instant glance how many it is." Like, you I look at a pile and see that there are three rocks, but I can't just glance and tell whether it's nine rocks or eleven rocks without counting, so it's a pile of hrair rocks.

"Hey, how many beers are left in the fridge?" "Hrair." "Okay, can you grab me one?"

I believe technically "hrair" > 3, not 4 (despite Fiver's Lapine name being "Hrairoo").

(Sometime I'm going to have to try "Would you like to silflay sometime?" as a pickup line....)

I think I'm willing to go to the mat on this one; I'm pretty sure that "hrair" means "five and/or a thousand and/or a lot and/or more than four." My copy of the book is downstairs, but a quick check of Wikipedia (not the BEST source, of course, but pretty good for this sort of trivia) does call "hrair" "five or more."

Well heck, I'm just flat out wrong. And if I can't trust my memory of Watership Down, what can I trust?

The exact footnote in the book begins "Rabbits can count up to four. Any number above four is hrair — "a lot," or "a thousand."

What, you're not teaching her "one, two, many, lots"?

She might know "all". Does that count? She's very enthusiastic about repeating it, but I'm not sure she understands what it means.

fascinating!

I enjoy your updates.

The number thing tracks really well with a lot of the theory about numbers and numeracy that I remember reading in undergrad theory classes, which is very cool!

I wonder if the color thing might be in any way associated with the effect that makes it hard to read the right color word when it's written in the wrong color? (Those books where the word "red" is printed in green type etc.) That is, maybe the shoe thing could be because she knows the colors, but the saying color words in sets thing could be because retrieving the right color word from the color word language set is still hard?

I suspect the deal with the colors is that she understands them like names, not like descriptive adjectives. So the shoes are like if I asked "Do you want to visit Bob or Jill?" (assuming we knew people named Bob or Jill) and the cars are like pointing at some random guy on the street and asking "What's his name?" I don't know! Is it Bob? There seem to be a lot of Bobs. Maybe it's Stanley. How do you tell?

That is, I don't think she actually has the conceptual categories of colours yet. I think she's just remembering that we've told her particular objects are "red" or whatever, and she remembers that information and can manipulate it abstractly but doesn't know what trait of the object it refers to.

It's like Zendo. Does this car have the Buddha nature?

Oh, that makes sense and is neat, I think.
Also, your name dialog in this bit is awesome (I have a lot of trouble with names, so it was especially entertaining for me!).

I love seeing these milestone posts. It amazing how just little steps are so amazing to watch. Now I just have to wait 15 months until my little one gets to numbers. ::taps foot impatiently::

I am constantly amazed at how many tiny steps there are, and how she can be really good at one part of a skill while completely missing some other part of the same skill. It's very revealing about the development of her thought processes.

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