Le Petit is working on a whole new level of linguistic skills. His recent sentences are more complex, he correctly conjugates verbs much of the time, and he assigns the "le," "la" and "les" articles in French with considerable accuracy. His English is similarly improving, although French is still his language of choice.
To obtain these new skills, he's paying very close attention to everything we say. He's listening to us so closely, in fact, that he repeats something from almost every sentence he overhears. We've got a pint-sized echo in the house, and one that thankfully isn't offended when we can't help but laugh at him.
Today he brought my husband a book with pull-out tabbed pages to repair. The book is intended for ages three and up, and we now know why, for every single page has a rip or tear and the hidden panels have all been pried free and scattered about the house. My husband's conversation with le Petit went something like this:
Le Petit: "C'est cassé. Papa, réparer, s'il te plaît."
[It's broken. Daddy, repair, please.]
Daddy: "Oui, c'est cassé, et je me demande qui l'a cassé."
[Yes, it's broken, and I wonder just who broke it.]
Le Petit: "Qui l'a cassé! Qui l'a cassé!"
Daddy: Tiens, papa va le réparer."
[Give it to me, Daddy will fix it.]
Le Petit: "Va le réparer."
Daddy: "Oui, je vais le réparer. Voilà. Mais ne tire pas trop fort."
[Yes, I'll fix it. Here you go. But don't pull too hard.]
Le Petit (tugging with all his might on the fixed page): "Trop fort! (Predictably, the page pulls free and he hands it back to my husband.)"Réparer! Trop fort! Trop fort!"
Daddy (laughing and fixing the page again): "Oui, c'est trop fort. Tu as tiré trop fort."
Le Petit (grinning and pulling the fixed page back apart): "J'ai tiré trop fort! Trop fort! Papa, réparer?"
The game lasted for good five minutes and I watched on, laughing out loud and wondering if it was worth trying to find the camera and film it. Le Petit has clearly learned the verbs casser [to break], tomber [to fall] and réparer [to repair]. He's even learned spin, and can tailor his account of an accident to dissimulate compromising facts. After throwing his plate on the floor at lunch time, he looked at us innocently and pointed.
"C'est tombé! C'est tombé!" he announced.
"It didn't fall," I corrected, "You threw it."
"Tu l'as fait tombé." "You made it fall," added my husband.
"Tombé! Tombé!" Le Petit repeated.
Some linguistic nuances that may take longer to master than others.