|Junior and his new farm (Junior, the bilingual boy)|
|click image to open video page|
Junior is a 4-year-old Spanish boy who learns English at home, and you can see how good he's got. He never had any contact with native speakers... except for the TV cartoons. His accent started as British, then changed to American these last few months (under the influence of American cartoons), but now that he's got fond of English and Australian cartoons he's switching back to a British accent again (which is the accent we always use with him anyway, apart from his native Spanish).
You can see his evolution since he was 14 months old and could understand but still was unable to talk, till now:
This is the farm you were talking about?
And where are the animals?
Where are the animals?
What? In- in here.
So they can't escape.
They can't. And where's the lion?
There's no lion. You know that a lion is a carnivore.
So what's the problem?
And, and look, this dog of the farm is in prison.
In prison? Why? Was he a bad, bad dog?
Yes, a bad dog.
What did he do?
Well, the sheep and the dog were fighting...
Do +++++ to be guarding the sheep?
And then the dog hit it... the sheep, and then the police* came running and he took him to prison.
And where are the sheep now?
What? The sheep is right in here.
Oh, there's only one sheep?
... with the... with the cow.
And where's the lion?
There's no lion.
Because a lion is a carnivore.
So it will eat all of the animals.
Because they have meat inside.
They have meat inside!
And lions eat meat.
Because they're carnivore.
Alright, yea, yea, yea, you told me. And Micky Mouse, is he a carnivore?
Is he a carnivore?
No, Micky eats cheese.
Cheese. So he can be on the farm?
But... but... but we don't use Micky.
We don't use Micky for the farm?
So it's a different game?
Alright. And what's that? Oh, that's the farm again?
Everything is part of the farm?
Yes, all this.
And the tractor too?
Yes, the tractor.
Look, and who's driving the tractor?
Who's driving the tractor?
Who's driving the tractor?
The tractor moves by itself.
By itself? But you need someone driving. I think that is the driver, that man there. The worker.
No, it's the farmer.
Oh, that's the farmer. So farmers drive tractors. You should put the farmer inside the tractor.
But there... but this... but but this tractor talks.
It's a talking tractor!
So, what does it say?
Everyone... all of these... all... these... all of them +++++++ have wheels talk.
Everything with wheels talk(s)?
So the house doesn't talk?
No, 'cause it doesn't have wheels.
And Micky Mouse doesn't talk?
And the tree doesn't talk?
No, 'cause it doesn't have wheels.
What about the animals inside the farm?
They don't have wheels.
So they don't talk.
No, they don't talk.
And look now.
But it could be a magical tree and talk?
It's not a magical tree. And look...
What's it doing?
It... the leaves go round and round.
Round and round. Because of the wind?
And what's that? What's that thing there?
The gas (e*)station.
The gas station?
And what's that for?
To... to put petrol in the cars.
Alright. The cars with wheels?
What about Micky Mouse. Can you put petrol inside Micky Mouse?
Can you put petrol inside Micky Mouse?
No, it's too big!
Too big for the... for the petrol?
Yes, too big for the petrol.
So you need cheese for him.
And what's that? What's that?
It's to tell where the storms come [from]. If the...one storm comes this way, it points this way. And if a storm comes this way, it points this way. And when the storm comes this way, it... it points this way.
Alright, yea, yea, yea, I got it, I got it. Ha ha ha.
And, and if a storm comes this way, it points this way.
Right, so you always know where the tornado's going to come from.
And you can hide.
All of the persons* hide inside the farm.
What if a tornado arrives suddenly. What is it going to happen?
What? They'll... they will all hide in here.
In there? Is it a very strong truck?
No, it's not a lorry, it's an adventure truck.
Alright, an adventure truck. And what's this?
It's a canoe.
And what is a canoe for?
To... to... to pass water.
With the oars here?
Yes, the oars.
There's only one oar. Where's the other one?
It is missing, yea. You should look for it.
And look in here.
Oh, wow, there's an alligator inside! Or is it a crocodile?
Alright. Oh, and what is the crocodile doing inside?
Because, because... errm... I don't know.
You don't know. It was just there. Did it come with it or did you put it inside? Hey, you've got a water can here. It's not a water can?
It's... it's to fill... when the adventure truck is in a desert and it runs out of water, Bill comes out and he fills it with water with this.
So is it for them to drink or is it for the truck?
For the truck.
And where are they going to drink if they're thirsty?
From the sink.
Alright, there's a sink inside there?
Yea, you've got everything.
Well, I'll put this out. You put the sink... Ok, I'll put the- it in.
And is that a plug? What is it? Or is it a tap?
Oh, a tap.
The thing what* tap happens is that it... it's that it gets longer and longer.
Alright, and what about the rope there?
No, the rope in front of the truck.
It's to rescue animals.
Alright. To rescue animals, this?
Yes. And, and sometimes the big animals inside the truck take them to prison.
And how can you rescue this giraffe?
With this. Look.
It needs to be like this, and then, they put it around his body and then they put this back here. See?
And the rope... this, this hook. Let me see... and, and then look what happens. Oops. I mean, it does... they do this, for example. D'you see?
Oh yea, it's moving!
Yes, it does move.
Nah, you turn it the oth- it's the other way round. Yup. Ooh, got loose... Yup, but I got it.
Note: The asterisk (*) marks a word or construction which is not correct (or maybe sometimes I don’t understand what he says and I think it’s something wrong).
SO THEY CAN’T ESCAPE= We use the construction: SO + subject + Can/could or any other modal verb to express purpose, especially when the subject of the main sentence is different from the subject of the second sentence:
- He turned on the lights to read (purpose, same subject)
- He turned on the lights so I could read (purpose, different subjects)
The full construction is SO THAT… but in conversational English we often drop THAT, as Junior does:
- The animals are on the farm so that they can’t escape = The animals are on the farm so they can’t escape.
In this case the SO (without THAT) looks the same as the usual SO to express consequence, but the context (and the comma) makes the difference:
- He worked a lot, so he could buy a new car (consequence)
- He worked a lot so he could buy a new car (purpose) = … so that he could…
THERE’S NO LION= We can make a negative sentence by putting the verb into the negative with NOT or putting the direct object into the negative with NO:
- There aren’t any cars here = There are no cars here
The word NO is an article and it is often used with plurals and uncountables as an alternative to “not + any”, but in colloquial English we can also use it in the singular, as Junior does here:
- There is no lion = There is not a lion
- I’m not a doctor = I’m no doctor.
CARNIVORE= An animal that eats meet (as opposed to “herbivore”, an animal who eats grass)
SO?= We ask this when we want to get more information, when we want the other person to keep on talking.
THE POLICE= This noun is a collective noun, it represents a group of people, not just a person. Collective nouns can use the verb in the singular or in the plural:
- The police are looking for the criminal = The police is looking for the criminal.
(other collective nouns: family, team, etc.)
But in any case, “the police” is not one person, so Junior made a mistake (a common one for children) and then he said “and he took him to prison”, when he should have said “and THEY took him to prison”. He was thinking of one person, so he should have said “the policeman”, not “the police”.
RIGHT= We use RIGHT to emphasize time and place: right here, right now.
THERE’S ONLY ONE SHEEP?= The word “sheep” doesn’t change: one sheep, two sheep, three sheep. That’s why when Junior is talking about the dog fighting the sheep I thought he was talking about a group of sheep, not just one, so now I’m surprised to find out there is only one sheep on the farm, and not many sheep, because he said “the sheep IS right here”, and not ARE). (note: ON the farm).
BY ITSELF= Without help, alone.
WHEELS= (see picture)
PETROL (BrE) = Gas or gasoline (AmE). Junior uses both the American and the British version, first he says "gas station" (in BrE "petrol station") but then he talks about "petrol" (BrE) and not "gas" (AmE). That's the influence of American cartoons.
I GOT IT= (col.) I understand.
PERSONS= The plural of “person” is “people” (one person, two people). You can use the regular plural “persons” in very formal or technical English, but not in a normal conversation.
WHAT IF…?= We use this construction to make a suggestion or ask for a possibility or simply to ask about someone’s opinion about something. It is often the equivalent of: “what happens if…”
LORRY (BrE) = Truck (AmE). They are big vehicles to transport things (see picture). But Junior is not really talking about a lorry, he’s talking about an “adventure truck”, which is a kind of jeep, a big car used for travelling rough countryside, deserts, etc.
CANOE= /kənu:/ (see picture)
OAR= /ɔ:/ (see picture)
ALLIGATOR= The American variety of crocodiles. Alligators live in America (Cuba, Miami…) and crocodiles in Africa.
IT RUNS OUT OF WATER= If you run out of something you use all of it, so there is nothing left, it’s completely finished.
- Can you go to the shop? We ran out of tomatoes and I need more.
SINK= (see picture)
TAP (BrE) = Faucet (AmE) (see picture)
SEE?= (col.) Can you see? (or also: do you understand?)
LET ME SEE= A very conversational expression you use when you are trying to do something or to understand how something works.
I MEAN= Another very conversational expression you use when you want to correct yourself or to be more precise.
- Susan is 9 years old. I mean, 10.
- He’s very old. I mean, not really very, but quite old, I think.
IT DOES MOVE= We can use the auxiliary DO in an affirmative sentence to emphasize the verb:
- Do you like it?
- Oh yes, I do like it a lot. Can I have some more?
THE OTHER WAY ROUND= In the opposite direction/way.
YUP= (col.) Yes (also: YEP, and you can use NOPE or NAH for the negative “no”)