Snap-together grammar

bead14Fisher Price makes snap-lock beads.  They are small plastic beads that babies can attach together to form chains.

From the start, I have thought of the Korean language like snap-lock beads.

I picture particles being added on to the end of words like putting together snap-lock beads.  I must have really loved this toy as a kid, because thinking about them brings me waves of joy, and by association, I feel happy about particles being added on to the end of words.

Try to describe the process with all the correct linguistical terms about morphemes (smallest unit of a language) falling into various classes (particles, verb endings, demonstratives, conjunctions, prefixes, suffixes) and my eyes glaze over.  If instead, I picture putting two beads together, to form a larger chain, I get that happy joy of success. Look!  These fit together.  Isn’t that cool?

I’m tempted to draw a lot of pictures that make the “morphemes” into beads.  Or just buy a set of beads and put labels on them.  The satisfying physicality of holding the grammatical concepts in my hand is appealing.  I want to play around. I expect the satisfying “snap” in my brain as things come together and start to make sense.


This play can take many forms:

  • Snap-lock beads
  • Alphabet blocks
  • Scrabble tiles
  • Construction paper shapes
  • Colorforms, Colorfelts
  • Microsoft Paint drawings
  • Legos
  • Jenga
  • Static cling vinyl window decals
  • Magnets

Grammar is this puzzle to see how the parts fit together.  It’s not learning, it’s just fun.





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