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Little Kid, Big Words

In reading a book about the colors of China to the Little Fayoumis tonight, we came across a picture of a statue of the Buddha. Little Fayoumis asked who that girl was. I said that it was the Buddha, a guy.

Little Fayoumis was surprised, and said that it looked like a girl. I told him that yeah, it was kind of hard to tell if it was a guy or a girl unless you already knew, and that the word for it when you can't tell if it's a guy or a girl is "androgynous".

"He's really androgynous," Little Fayoumis declared, murdering the word, but grasping it utterly.

That really is the way to slip in those nice vocabulary words -- in context, when the kid is clearly searching for the right word that they don't know yet, and are happy when a grown-up tells them a word that fits what they mean exactly. (And it also weirds me that so much of the thinking is done with these words -- they make elaborate constructs possible to store and modify, but unless one's accustomed to being a wordsmith (writer of me?), one can't say anything new compactly.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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