Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Many Meanings of No

"Not no way, not no how!"
LO has a new favorite word.

That word is "no."

I doubt that this is a particularly rare occurrence for a toddler in the grip of his second year, but I am still surprised by my son's use of this word, partially because he is able to imbue a short word with a wide range of meanings. Like the word Smurf or the F word, apparently "no" can mean any number of things (all of them negative) depending upon usage and intonation.

Here is a short list of LO's use of the word and its meaning in English:
  1. "NOOOOOOOO!"  This one is generally used while also running away from whatever Mama is attempting to do to/with/for the child to which he objects, such as baths, diaper changes, and putting on clothing. English meaning: "Not in this or any other life, you crazy lady!"
  2. "No!" This short and emphatic negatory is often used before J or I or any other speaker can actually get an entire question out. English meaning: "Let me stop you right there. It ain't gonna happen. And I should know--I'm a two-year-old."
  3. "Nno-ooo." This is my favorite of his nos. This is the response we often get to statements about getting the child ready for bed or otherwise providing him with some sort of structure. He really stretches out the word, and often accompanies it with a head shake. English meaning: "It makes me sad how wrong you are."
I'm thinking that last "no" ought to be adopted by debate teams and political pundits. It could stop a heated debate in its tracks.

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