Skip to content

3V0774.01 Jokes as communication protocols (3/6/80)

Miriam has been telling (surely in Peggy’s hearing) a knock-knock :
M : Knock knock.
V : Who’s there ?
M : Tim.
V : Tim who ?
M : Tim – ber !

At supper this evening, Peggy said :
P : knock knock.
B : Who’s there ?
P : Him.
B : Him who ?
P : laughter.

We continued, because Peggy kept initiating the jokes. Miriam repeated
her ‘Timber’ joke. And then Peggy, apparently sensing something was
required after ‘Him who ?’ continued in her final recitation to say :
B : Him who ?
P : After me.
This phrase is from a picture in Hop on Pop. The one where a tiger is
biting a boy (text : ‘He is after me.’)

I believe Peggy was imitating Miriam’s joke — but misapprehended it —
then recognizing something was amiss — went on to try repairing her
imitation by making what sense of it she could. I believe this is a
beautiful example of the particular process. As it connects back to her
initial learning of the KK script, this incident argues we should continue
attending to Peggy’s joke appreciation — because if we follow it all the
way through her initial ‘getting’ of a joke in a mature form, we will
have a primary example of how a child learns a socially embedded
communication protocol.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email