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Vn99.1 Puns 9/26/77


At a recent visit to the library, Robby borrowed two books which
both he andMiriam have read and re-read since then (cf. Vignettes
84 and 94). The first book is one of Knock-knock jokes, the second is
one of riddles. I believe this second book broadened Miriam’s view of
making jokes and led subsequently to today’s little story.

In school, Miriam invented and told Brian this joke:

Miriam

What should you do if your toe falls off?
Brian

I don’t know.
Miriam

Call a tow truck.

Robby and I though it was very funny. I congratulated her and
told Miriam it was a great advance over her ‘fart bomb’ joke (cf.
Vignette 35). When they started squabbling over who could retell the
joke to Greg Gargarian at our next visit to Logo, I told both children
that Miriam should have the inventor’s privilege. Robby was quite put
out until I saved the day by asking:

Bob:

What should you do if your thumb falls off?
Children

I don’t know.
Bob

Get a thumb tack.

I gave this joke to Robby for his use at Logo.

Relevance
This joke of Miriam’s shows her first invention of a pun. I consider
this proof positive of her effective mastery of context-based word-idiom
disambiguation. (For a discussion of this issue, see Pre-Readers’ Concept
of the English Word
.) Note that she now reads at third grade level.

Post-script
Both children enjoyed this joke invented by Andy DiSessa:

Andy

What should you do if your finger falls off?
Bob

I don’t know.
Andy

Get a fingernail.

Both declared my following joke “not very funny.”

Bob

What should you do if you lose your head?
Children

I don’t know.
Bob

Call a head hunter.
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