3V1234.3

3V1234.03 Reading: one word at a time (6/9/81)

Peggy played with the computer — off and on — during most of the day. Mostly she was “on.” (She even left the supper table to play with her “world”) although she took a break now and again to have a snack or to join Robby and Miriam when they were out working on the lawn.

At the beginning of the day, she needed help finding the card word which would do what she wanted. (And at one point she typed PAINTGR #. I noted she needed a space between the words.) Several times at least she saw me pick up a deck of cards and sort through them for the card she sought.
This evening, as we adults were deciding to go to bed, Peggy mentioned wanting to make something FLY. I pointed out BIRD was on top of one pile of cards (she proceeded to type that word). FLY was (I believe but am not certain) was also readily at hand. After making BIRD FLY in two separate commands, Peggy complained that her BIRD was not going fast enough… “You want it to ZOOM like the cars and the trucks ?” I asked. She agreed and extracted the appropriate card. “How do you know that?” I asked (expecting an answer relating to the initial ‘Z’). Peggy replied, “it’s got an ‘M’, two ‘O’s, and one of these things.” Peggy, that is, discriminated one target word (her target) from a number of similar card words (there are nine others printed in red marker on white 4×6 cards), pronounced its associated value when found and justified her judgment by referring to a decomposition of the thing into known elements. What else would one ask as a demonstration that she was reading one word at a time ? That she understand it’s meaning ? She did so (it makes things go fast) because that pre-established meaning was encoded at her request and became one of the most popular verbs she applied to her objects.

Another point, somewhat earlier. Peggy said she wanted to paint a dog green. The packs of cards were jumbled and I asked, “Where are all the paint cards?” And she inquired further, “You mean the ones with the space?” That is, she now clearly discriminates that class of cards with a minimal phrase (two words) from a single word, recognizing the space character as a delimiter.

It will be interesting to see in our next experiment if I can introduce Peggy to two word sentences, such as CAR ZOOM. FISH SWIM, etc, BOAT SAIL…. Maybe this needs another world (and how about PAINT GREEN GIRL and PAINT GIRL GREEN ? (note this idea was followed up by creation of the CITY world.)

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