Don't <hinder><bother><hamper> me.

Pokhilyuk

Member
Russian
I am working on my laptop at home. My 2-year-old is here, next to me. She constantly tries to get very close, hampering my work with a mouse, and tries to press the keys on the keyboard. How to say (in a natural way) to her to stop doing this (not using the phrase "Stop doing this") ?

1) Don't hinder me. I will play with you when I finish my work, I need about 5 minutes more.
2) Don't bother me. I will play with you when I finish my work, I need about 5 minutes more.
3) Don't hamper me. I will play with you when I finish my work, I need about 5 minutes more.
4) Don't disturb me. I will play with you when I finish my work, I need about 5 minutes more.
5) Don't interfere. I will play with you when I finish my work, I need about 5 minutes more.
6) Something more appropriate

Detailed comments on each variant usage are welcomed!
 
  • anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    When talking to a 2 year old, isn't the natural choice whatever the child is most likely to understand?

    All of these options are possible, but most are unlikely when speaking to a young child (especially 1, 3 and 5). I've been in your exact situation before with my three-year-old, and for me the natural choice would be either, "Honey, stop bothering me," or "Honey, stop messing with my laptop."
     

    Pokhilyuk

    Member
    Russian
    When talking to a 2 year old, isn't the natural choice whatever the child is most likely to understand?

    The answer on your question is NO, because my goal is not to say something simple enough for her to understand, but to say the fitting phrase so she (and me) know from now on what people say in this situations.
    If she hears the word for the first time - it's ok, she is smart enough to figure out its meaning from context and considering my byplay.
     

    anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The answer on your question is NO, because my goal is not to say something simple enough for her to understand, but to say the fitting phrase so she (and me) know from now on what people say in this situations.
    If she listens the word for the first time - it's ok, she is smart enough to figure out its meaning from context and considering my byplay.

    Fair enough, then go ahead and use any of the terms that you've listed there. But I think the form of "Stop Xing (me)" is more natural than "Don't X me." Again, though, the choice is up to you. Nothing grammatically wrong with the latter form.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    People say "Don't bother me, (please)!" It's possible I've never used 'hamper' or 'hinder' in everyday English dialogue and 'interfere' is not correct. 'Bother' is a good general word for all sorts of nuisance activities.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    The answer on your question is NO, because my goal is not to say something simple enough for her to understand, but to say the fitting phrase so she (and me) know from now on what people say in this situations.
    If she hears the word for the first time - it's ok, she is smart enough to figure out its meaning from context and considering my byplay.
    For a 2-year-old English learner, I'd pick 'bother' out of these five possibilities because, I expect, that's the one that English speakers would use in the widest variety of situations.
     
    Last edited:

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    That is a fair comment but advice about use of language includes the language commonly used by educated people in a specific context which is what you seem interested in. My remark reflects a previous one that 'bother' seems "fairly harsh". This is about register and suitability.
    That's not how it seems to this BE speaker in a general sense although I would not use it to a very small child. It was however one of your suggestions. So now you have a good picture of what native speakers think about your proposals on which to base your decisions.
    It is no different from saying that 'interfere' is totally unsuitable.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi Ivan_I, yes, both of your phrases are grammatically correct if you complete the second one (don't hinder me from doing my work!" (you can't say just "don't hinder me from doing!" :confused: ), but probably not idiomatic, because "hinder" is fairly formal, and doesn't really suit a conversational context. It would help if you gave a clear context in which you want to use the phrase.
    I'm carrying a big pan of boiling water, so keep out of my/the way! Don't get in my/the way!
    Even though I can't swim, I'm going to jump off the top diving board into the pool, so don't try and stop me!
     

    Pokhilyuk

    Member
    Russian
    What about Stop messing with me!
    Seems that it's better than everything else, including "bothering".
    Surprised that no one suggested this (except of anthox message though in slightly different context)
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It sounds like somebody getting unwelcome sexual attention. :confused:

    'Messing with' also sounds somewhat American to my ear especially when used for people or groups of people."Don't mess with Texas".

    I suppose I would use it when people are behaving inappropriately 'Let's stop messing around and get serious'.

    It will be interesting to see what others think.
     

    bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    Sorry to disagree but toddlers aquire language skills by hearing... not by studying vocabulary lists, so if certain common words and phrases are "off limits" to their delicate ears, how are they going to learn them?
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    What about Stop messing with me!
    In what context? The child (three years old now!) playing with the mouse and touching the keys?
    It doesn't work in that context. The kid is not messing with you, she's messing with the mouse and the keyboard.

    In terms of meaning, Stop messing with me is in the general area of don't be deceptive, don't be untrustworthy, don't treat me cavalierly, don't make me look like a fool.
    The tone of voice indicates whether the speaker is imploring the other person, annoyed with them, or about to punch the living daylights out of them.

    It was my experience, as a former small child, that a parent needs at least three words or phrase in their vocabulary, one for each specific level of their annoyance with a small child. That way the child can learn just how annoyed her parent is.

    You also want them to learn words that they'll be likely to hear from other people: I don't recall ever hearing or saying the word 'hamper' for 'get in the way of.' So I wouldn't use that word. It's not a case of avoiding words that are off limits, but of avoiding words that sound as though you read the thesaurus before going to sleep at night.
     
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