For years, it has been widely assumed that young children use and adapt language in a ‘fluid, creative and innovative’ way. Indeed, according to the Social Network for Youth website, ‘their young minds are full of ideas and insight that are so thought-provoking that they encompass the power to change the way we view the world we live in’.
However, new a five-year research project led by James Montgomery, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Central England, is challenging that view. His conclusion is that what the majority of children under the age of ten say is pretty much complete and utter gash.
‘Frankly, most of what the silly little sods come out with is an ill-digested gibberish mixture of half-remembered fact and half-baked opinions, interspersed with embarrassingly bad doggerel rhymes,’ he told a conference in Zurich yesterday. ‘In layman’s terms: it’s bollocks.’
Montgomery is not without his critics. His research methods have been described as ‘selective’ by the National Association of Six Year Olds. The association’s chair-boy, Tyler Henderson, added that, in the opinion of most of his classmates at St James Junior School in Harwich, Montgomery bumped into a lorry and didn’t say sorry and furthermore he is a poo in the loo.
However, Montgomery is undeterred. In fact, he revealed that even the process of travelling to present his findings proved his point. Before catching the train from his home in Warwick to Birmingham Airport, he tried to explain to his six-year-old daughter Ellie that Daddy had to go to Switzerland for a few days to talk to some people
‘She just put on a cod-Germanic voice and said ‘Don’t go to Switzerland, daddy. A cuckoo clock could open and poke you in the eye! Some Swiss cheese could melt on your head!’ An answer that was at once stupid, implausible and full of offensive national stereotypes. Don’t get me wrong - I love her to bits but honestly, what a moron.’