The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, August 03, 2007

Language School, Singapore: Tiarnan style.

Sometimes, my house is like a language school: the air is filled with the sounds of different languages, all competing for the attention of a baffled ear.

Such was it yesterday, but in a most entertaining way.

Tiarnan and Fintan had developed a different perspective over what should be the right name for various objects.

Fintan, four, pointed at a picture of a horse and said: "Horse."

Tiarnan, eighteen months, took exception to this: "Cuda!", he insisted, most fiercely in Malay.

Fintan didn't give up: "Horse." he repeated, again.

"Cuda!", shouted Tiarnan, with even more vigour, peering up at his towering brother, most indignantly.

Fintan evaluated the situation and said: "Cuda."

Tiarnan was pleased. His little tense body relaxed, letting his ire flow away. He had won, Malay it was to be.

Syahidah, their mother, had watched this scene unfold and, rather mischievously turned to Tiarnan and said: "Sit down."

This got him going. He flared up at once and turned on her: "Dudok!", he snapped, shouting the Malay for "sit down".

I found this interchange as informative as it was entertaining. Tiarnan is growing up bilingual in Malay and English. In this conversation, and in many others, he has shown a tendency to translate from one language to another, indeed, at times he seems an automatic translator. Given a word in one language, he will immediately give you the corresponding word in the other language. He is right everytime in his matching. What is revealing here, is that he has clearly developed a preference for Malay - and insists on defending his favoured language from the incursion of English (which he also speaks and understands anyway).

It might come down to the fact that his mother is Malay Singaporean and spends more time with him, than I am able to. Maybe he is, therefore, standing up for his mother. Sweet boy.

(If you would like to read more of Tiarnan, eighteen months, or his gifted brothers, Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and eight months, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:30 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the right spelling:
sit down=duduk

6:24 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you.

6:41 PM  
Blogger EbTech said...

I will side with Tiarnan on this one, despite knowing nothing of the Malay language and despite English being my primary language!

10:39 AM  

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