My four-year-old granddaughter is quite a talker. Except for the th sound and a few irregular verb endings, her spoken English is quite good. That’s why I was disconcerted recently when I heard her say “Me and my daddy went to the library.”
When the subject is singular, she has no trouble with the subject form of “I For example, she says “I went to the library” or “I want to draw.” She does not attend day care and is rarely around other children. I couldn’t figure out where she had learned the incorrect construction.
The answer came as I watched PBS children’s programming with her the other day. We were watching Caillou.
The television show is based on books written by Christine L’Heureux and Hèlène Desputeaux. The television series was originally produced in Canada—in French. Whoever translated the original into English created the grammatical error.
Caillou and his little sister Rosie are pretending to be pirates. At one point Caillou goes running into a room where his parents are. He says, “Me and Rosie are playing pirates.” Neither of Caillou’s parents corrects his grammar.
This lapse in the Caillou dialogue is a reminder that parents who want their children to learn a standard form of English must be alert to what the child is hearing while parked in front of the television set. Not even “educational” programming can be trusted to model standard speech these days.