3V0375.01 Verbal Imitation [THAT.Y; cf. P53]

Peggy knows where the cookies are kept. She has become accustomed to requesting one by pointing from her highchair across the table in the direction of a counter — this makes it uncertain what she wants. Is it milk, juice, a piece of my food? When Peggy has finished her basic meal, we’re more inclined to ask, “Do you want a cookie, Peg?” Her response at lunch today was heard differently by Gretchen and me. I heard Peg say [OOK Y]. Gretchen heard the response [THAT Y]. In either case, it’s clear she was suffixing a “Y” sound to some other. The first interpretation [OOK Y] would be imperfect imitation. I would prefer believing that Gretchen was correct, for [THAT Y] would be a first splitting off of a specific meaning from Peg’s general signifier /[th]aet/ — be we can’t replay what isn’t recorded, and Peggy has not done it again.

A second incident, noted by Gretchen, was Peggy’s response on being asked of food, “Do you want a little more?” She responded, “/li/a/mo/a/.””
The most remarkable incident occurs in P53 when Peggy responds to a question ending with her name, “________, Peg.” Thus [egg — Peggy]. What is so clear in the incident is Peggy’s rich interpretation from what she hears, however imperfectly, into the realm of possible meanings of words she knows.

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