Most of the time we adults take language for granted – unless of course we have to learn a new one. Then, things change pretty quickly. We can't get the pronunciation right, and we can't hear the difference between sounds. There are too many new words, and we forget ones that we learned just the day before. We can't say what we want to say, and we can't understand anything either, because everyone speaks too fast.
Then, as if that isn't bad enough, we come across a three-year-old child and watch in envy and amazement as she talks away effortlessly in that impossible language. She can't tie a knot, jump rope, draw a decent-looking circle, or eat without making a mess. But while she was still in diapers, she figured out what several thousand words mean, how they are pronounced, and how they can be put together to make sentences. (I know that I've used “she” all the way through this paragraph, as if only girls learn language. Since English doesn't have a word that means “he or she,” I'll simply alternate between the two. I'll use “she” in this chapter, “he” in the next chapter, “she” in the third chapter, and so forth.)
Children's talent for language is strangely limited – they're good at learning language, but not so good at knowing what to say and what not to say.
“Daddy, did your hair slip?” – three-year-old son, to his bald but long bearded father[…]