Lexicon Valley: Why Is No Among a Child's First Words?

A show about the mysteries of English.
Dec. 30 2013 10:52 AM

Why Is No Among a Child's First Words?

Listen to Slate's show about the surprisingly complex taxonomy of simple negation.

Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 35: Learning to Say No

No means no, right? Not exactly. The seemingly simple word has a nuanced series of functions that children somehow master early on. In fact, no is among the top 10 or so words that English-speaking babies say when first beginning to talk (daddy and mommy are Nos. 1 and 2, you'll be happy to know). By the way, yes doesn't even crack the top 20. Listen as Bob Garfield and I discuss the various ways that children use negation.

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You'll find every Lexicon Valley episode at slate.com/lexiconvalley, or in the player below:

Send your thoughts about the show to slatelexiconvalley@gmail.com.

Mike Vuolo is a radio and podcast producer and the host of Lexicon Valley.

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