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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Names for children's books|
|Question:||Hello, Your website is very informative and thank you so much for making the information available online. I am writing a children's story book and am not yet settled on the main character's name. Its working title is ''Gerry Giraffe'' and it is aimed at very young children, probably 18 months - 2 year old. Am I correct in assuming that names beginning with English vowels are easier for very young children to pronounce? If this is correct, I wonder what names, either male or female, your panel could suggest I use for the main giraffe character. I am keen that the name can be easily pronounced or at least attempted by a very young child. I look forward to your reply. Kind regards, Elizabeth Flynn|
|Reply:||Although children tend to get vowel sounds 'right' before they get consonants right, the earliest words are dominated by structures that are consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel, and especially with the pair repeated (such as 'Mama', 'Baba'). I don't know where you got the idea that names beginning with vowels are easier -- I've never seen this finding. In any case, by 18 months, most children are well past the first words stage, and many of them are beginning to make simple sentences (e.g. 'More cheese.', "No cars.'). Pronunciation skills rapidly develop and, furthermore, small children will make attempts at any word they learn. The study of how children adapt words is a popular one in child language acquisition, as the patterns of pronunciation show the child's learning strategy. Parents will quickly recognise what a child's attempt means. For example, one of my grandchildren is in this age range, and the way she pronounces 'Maisy Mouse' (she has many Maisy Mouse books) was at one stage similar to the way she says 'Nice', but we knew when she was pointing to Maisy, or when she was requesting that we read her a Maisy Mouse book, just as we knew when she was appreciating some food or new clothes. After a month or so she learnt to make a difference between /m/ and /n/. So there is no need to choose a word that is easy for the child. What the character does and how they look are much more important. I would also advise you not to think of a narrow range of ages, but to think more of the upper age of the child who would enjoy it. I notice many board books (we recently read a very nice one called 'I can do it too') can be enjoyed by children aged 6 months to 5 years, while other books aimed at older children can still be enjoyed by much younger ones. If you think in terms of 2 year olds, you should reach both younger and older children than the target age. Anthea|
|Reply From:||Anthea Fraser Gupta click here to access email|