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3V0245.02 P035 is where Peggy’s verbal imitation began 9/24/78

9/24 On reviewing P 35, we can see that Peggy began verbal imitation RIGHT THERE! During the experiment, I thought she did not imitate my vowel sounds. On closer review you can see her imitate /b/\b/ /b/\b/ /b/\b/ – /ae/ and /m/\m/. Peggy is now able to learn words! How shall we follow her development?


3V0283.02 Clear Example of Object Concept crudeness -> prefer gradual elaboration (11/01/78)

Relevance: This is another example , albeit a peculiar one, of Peggy having a very crude object concept. she obviously recognizes that objects have an “inside”: This blocks box does — for it can be opened and blocks taken out; her cups have an inside into which balls may fit. It should not be expected that with the discovery of object permanence one “inherits” some knowledge about how surfaces relate to substances. Peggy apparently knows that blocks can go into her box – But she may not yet realize that the lid must be open for the blocks to get inside; so I would interpret her banging them on the lid of the box as an attempt to get them inside. Similarly, when she frequently bangs a ball against the bottom of a cup, I interpret the action as an attempt to get the ball into the cup, but one which does not acknowledge the need to pass through an open face of the object.


3V0287.01 Assimilation of the pen to the pipe giving game. 11/05

GIVING — Out at the soccer field, I found Peggy in my arms and no pipe in my pocket. This does appear to be her favorite toy-with-daddy.) She was not dismayed, however, and took from my pocket this black, felt-tipped pen with which I am writing. (It looks a little like a pipe-stem, as it sticks above the pocket edge.) The interesting event followed Peggy’s identifying the object by mouthing — she held it out for me to take in my mouth. I did so, and she took it back soon.

RELEVANCE — Assimilation of a pen to a pipe-giving activity.


3V0293.01 Giving with chewing. Earlier precursor possibilities. 11/11

GIVING — I tried to work in the living room while keeping the fire going and an eye on Peggy. After discarding most potential toys from the small table I put them on, she charged about in her walker, waving the conical peg from her ring tower toy (this plastic piece was replaced with a cylindrical peg months ago). Peggy rolled over to me, smiled, chewed on her plastic peg, then offered an end for me to chew on. I accepted her gift, held the end in my mouth, and she took it back.

— refer to the initial section of the videotape P 41, where Miriam played ball with Peggy for the first time. Peggy quickly accepted the protocol.
Gretchen’s only suggestion of an earlier protocol possibly related to this is her request that Peggy give her a spoon. I much prefer the simpler finger-in-the-mouth game — where Peggy, waving her hand about sometimes striking an adult in the face or near the mouth, would have her fingers kissed, nibbled, or sucked.


3V0294.01 The IMPURE POINT and progressive structuration: 11/12/78

As observed more generally by Bruner, this infant Peggy started “pointing” around 9 months of age. (confer P40 and P41, I don’t know if earlier tapes contain unremarked examples of earlier pointing). Since the appearance, we have watched Peggy’s pointing more closely off camera. She does point with her index finger solus, but more commonly she points with her index, middle fingers extended and joined — as this morning she pointed at a fire I had built, saying at the same time /dae/dae/dae/dae/. Robby, now much engaged in cub-scouting, has been delighted to call to our attention the many times Peggy “give the cub scout salute.”

Peggy frequently sucks on her fingers and her impure point is often a wet one as well. A simple speculation is that Peggy is treating separately groups of fingers (that motor control is becoming gradually more discriminating — and that she is splitting out groups for distinct control which will finally result in specific, directed control of digits.) My scenario is that Peggy, sucking on two fingers, has the remaining two fingers closed with the thumb and when she removes her hand from her mouth to point, the command functions for the two fingers being jointly sucked. This speculation is ab initio unlikely because Peggy’s characteristic finger couple for sucking is the two middle fingers. I have asked Gretchen to watch Peggy’s finger sucking very carefully now before she does any pointing.

Relevance: I consider this hypothesis a good one to test because, joining as it does Berrill;s view of progressive structuration with observable phenomena, I might come up with a strong contrary view to Bruner’s offhand contention that the development of the pure point is “encoded in the genome.”


3V0300.01 Pointing: no physical carryover; use as a probe-> pointing: 11/18/78

Peggy always points with two fingers. This is so obvious to us we should not let it pass without saying. My earlier speculation that this related to her finger sucking pattern was wrong. The two fingers are a probe. She puts them in Gretchen’s mouth when offering fingers to be sucked; she scratches with them. (Frequently Peggy sucks the two middle fingers of her left hand and explores her head — say an ear with the two forefingers of her right hand.)


3V0309.02 Emergence of the Pure Point: pointing and eating: 11/27/78;

As we discussed Peggy’s experiments with her grandmother at the dinner table, when Peggy pointed with her forefinger alone, I remarked to Edie that such an action was what Bruner called “a pure point” and explained our argument at DSRE awhile back. In this context, Gretchen mentioned that though now Peggy points with two fingers, in this specific case her pointing had been preceded by using the forefinger to poke about in her mouth in an attempt to remove an unwanted bit of food. Gretchen added that this use of her fore finger was characteristic, much more common than poking about with several fingers or her right hand in her mouth.

Relevance: Can’t “the pure point” emerge as a melding of diverse actions under social direction thus: as finer sight control is achieved, with the digits of the later state more useful as a general probe, the refinement might proceed by discriminating one finger (the forefinger) from the cluster of digits — this pattern would show the sudden appearance of the pure point; alternately, the discrimination might be more balanced, the digits-as-probes splitting into two groups of two – this is seen in Peggy’s “impure point.” Getting solid bits of food out of the mouth is an activity which might generally favor using only one finger (it fits between gum and cheek better than the fist) in the most propitious circumstance, i.e. where the sensitive and knowledge based directions of behavior and interpretations of feedback are richest — in the mouth. If the mouth is the crucible in which digit control is developed and refined, its recognition is socially witnessed by its application, i.e. by its use in pointing. If we witness a new skill of single-finger action developed in poking around with food bit in the mouth transferred to probing behavior or to object indication, we are using a socially witnessed observation to notice an extension from a much more intrinsic area of experience. Isn’t it sensible to think that the use of the forefinger to point would be not merely witnessed but even directed by social examples?


3V0309.03 Verbal imitation of “Thank you”: first addition of verbal communication to object based protocol. 11/27

THANK YOU — Peggy has been playing ‘giving’ with her pipe for several days with her grandmother. Edie would take the pipe from Peggy, pretend to puff, and return it with a “Thank you.” Yesterday, as she wheeled about in her walker, she offered her pipe to Gretchen in a series of exchanges and in one, she accompanied her ‘giving’ with /dae/dae/ [the current syllabic favorite] — but what was remarkable was that she “said” ‘Thank you’ — she had the right tempo and intonation pattern. It was after Peggy’s “Thank you” that I observed how regular was Edie’s part in her protocol with Peggy.

RELEVANCE — This ‘giving’ incident is the first one wherein Peggy has appeared to add elements of verbal communication to an object-based communication protocol. What is noteworthy especially is the “turn around”, as imitation, occurring with a different person from the one who inspired it. This is clear evidence that the “phrase” is in Peggy’s mind. This incident is also the first one in which it is fairly clear she has “said” something. — She has just passed her ten month birthday. What other two syllable statements could we expect to recognize from intonation and context?


3V0317.01 Temporal advancement of “thank you” to a command. 12/05

NO “THANK YOU” — Peggy’s use of the pattern has proved transient. She no longer says anything when given my pipe or a cookie or whatever. But the passing of the phrase was marked by an interesting transition shown in only a single incident: Peggy wanted some particular thing (what it was escapes me) which I had; she held out her hand with her “impure point” to me and said /øaen/. By a sort of temporal advancement, the verbal courtesy “thank you”, which was merely associated with the act of receiving a given thing, was transformed into an articulate word of command, i.e. “give me that thing I want.”

The holophrase “Here”, meaning “Pay attention to me and take this thing I am giving you” has reached a permanent position in Peggy’s repertoire. Her vocalization is most commonly /thae/ with a falling intonation — when she holds out an object, offering it in her ‘giving’ protocol. Peggy’s vocal accompaniment to giving occurs more frequently than it is omitted.

RELEVANCE — These notes document the transience and permanence of two different ur-phrases in Peggy’s repertoire. The “Here” ur-phrase, one of command, remains. The “Thank you” has disappeared with a single incident occurring where it was promoted to a commanding function.
– How else does Peggy get us to do what she wants?
– The most common want of me is “pick me up.” Peggy earliest showed me this want by taking hands and moving them under her armpits. Now more commonly, she crawls over and stands up, wailing, by holding onto my pants leg.
– Frequently, once she gets into my lap, her more specific objective is to twist away from me and seize whatever may be in reach on my table.


3V0329.01 Pointing and imperative /dae/. Social rich interpretation. 12/17/78

POINTING AND NAMING — Over the last several days Peggy has been VERY cranky. She always wants to be picked up and makes this clear in two ways: she whines or cries; she crawls over and climbs up on your leg. New teeth are definitely coming in (but whether this is adequate to explain her crankiness I cannot say). In this general situation, it has been hard to pay attention to Peggy. But one development has surfaced. When Peggy wants some object she can see in your hands — a pipe for instance — she now reaches out, pointing with two fingers and she says /dae/ with an imperative tone. (She has been doing so for 2 or 3 days now. The frequency is declining and it may drop out of manifest common behaviors.)
This use may derive from the ‘thank you’ and ‘here’ with which we accompany the object exchange in Peggy’s giving. (The inflection of ‘here’ is usually imperative as in “Here. Take this.” as contrasted with the less directive ‘here.’

RELEVANCE — Having re-read the notes above, what I find strange and most in contrast, is the way we actually interpret what Peggy says. Children and grownups hear (assume) Peggy is saying /thaet/ (or is it /daet/?). We interpret what she appears to use in command as a verbal, further- specification — no = we interpret her pointing as a further specification of a nominal or prenomial reference to a thing which we assume she wants.


3V0355.02 Teasing Bob (1/12/79)

Yesterday, Peggy and I played on the spare basement bed. We traded pipe stems. I gave Peggy my pipe stem. She chewed on it then gave it back. Saying “thank you”, I nibbled at it and returned it, “Here.” This was repeated several times. Then Peggy, on giving the pipe stem to me, when I closed my teeth on it, she did not relinquish her grip — but pulled hard to take it from me. It was very clear, from Peggy’s delighted chortling, that she was making a joke, was TEASING me. Later on this same did, she did the same with Gretchen (and Robby took a picture). this incident was not the first time that Peggy has done this to me, but it was the most unmistakable in terms of her intent.


3V0358.01 Over the Head — body awareness (1/15/79)

Peggy has been passing objects behind her for some time (this appears in notes and on video tape). One early attempt with her rattle on a string was to get it over her head. She now does this regularly with whatever is remotely suitable – e.g. the pulling strings of her toy cart and noisy dog. Last night we played on the bed. Peggy found, atop a pile of laundry. her orange suit with duckling decorations (two plastic ducks over the heart). she first fingered and mouthed them then began pulling the suit over her head — with a permanent hand grasp at various extreme points. Although she paused occasionally to play “peek-a-boo” her main focus was on pulling the clothes-string over and past her head. she did so with considerable vigor and (I believe) confidence in the outcome. She, in fact, ended by going through a double dislocate several times to bring the clothes-string down to her bottom (This was done repeatedly.

Relevance: Here I see the completion of Peggy’s definition of her back parts that are beyond her sight and touch (In a way, she has proven she has no hump). Another way of looking at this is to say she is using the material to extend her tactile exploration of her body — even though she must interpose a ‘cognitive’ certainty of contact for the sense that her hand would return on a body part more accessible.


3V0361.02 Tantrums 1/18/79

TANTRUMS — Peggy has begun to show behavior that I would call tantrums. Typically she is in her highchair, trying to communicate something. As she gets more excited, her verbalizing becomes continuous and insistent. Offered things she does not want, she will grasp them with one hand and toss them over the side impatiently. She rocks her body back and forth, bending her head down far enough to whack herself on the chin. By this point, she has lost control of herself and is too worked up to be satisfied even if we figure out what it is that she wanted. As yet these tantrums are not excessively severe or prolonged. I was instantly reminded of Robby as a baby the first time Peggy acted this way, although I don’t recall details of his behavior.


3V0432.01 First example of symbolic thought: “doll-up” for herself (3/30/79)

Miriam has been making fantastic figures by cutting out paper. She
displays them by taping them up below my mantle motto at the second
story fireplace. Peggy caught sight of them and wanted to ‘see’ them.
She indicates this by a high pitched noise of delight //\/ and pointing,
with as many repetitions as necessary. When I carried her up to the
gallery of cutouts, Peggy was especially interest[ed] in the cutout of a
small person with a bow in her hair (the other figures appeared to be
more like hairy critters from some Dr. Seuss book). I gave it to her.
For some time, 2 days, Peggy has wandered about with the cutout doll
in her hand, dropping and neglecting it for a while but later picking it
up again.

Many times, Peggy has brought the cutout doll to me, made her
‘delight’ noise, and set [it] on my knee. My typical response has been
to pick it up, examine it, make some comment and hand it back to her.
Often this has angered or frustrated Peggy. I finally understood when
she began repeating this sequence with Foxy. (Here too my response
was to pick it up, pet it and give it back.) Peggy wanted me to pick her
up; she was using favorite objects to represent herself in
communicating to me what she wanted.

How do I know that’s true? I can’t be certain. Even with the difference
between her delight and frustration, [it] is not an adequate sign because
[she] would be happy to be picked up even if it were only my idea and
not hers. Claiming that Peggy uses a token for herself is thus
imputation — but an important one.

Relevance — If my interpretation is correct, this is the first incident
wherein I have witnessed symbolic thought. It is distinct from simple
naming in that here one object stands for and is operated on as a
representative of the referent. If Peggy is thinking symbolically NOW,
the use of language when it emerges later will be seen as an extension
of symbolic relations already in place.


3V0440.01 A declarative sentence <[That's Scurry. That's it.]> (04/07/79)

Scurry looms large in Peggy’s world. She knows her name is Scurry; she
thinks of the fox pictures as dog pictures (especially note the
videotape where she first makes that identification). Today Gretchen
asked me, “Bob, did you hear that?” (I hadn’t.) “Peggy said, ‘That’s
Scurry.'” I remarked that it would be nice if it were true, if that’s what
she had said and meant. Here Scurry obliged by walking into the room.
Peggy pointed and said [That’s Scurry. That’s it.]

Importance — This use appears to be an elaboration of Peggy’s
imperative /[th]aet/ and /hae(v)[th]aet/ into declarative use.


3V0494.01 Speech as intensifier of interactions; interrelations of idioms, names,
prosodics (5/31/79)

HOW’S THAT? (cf. toe grabbing, 5/22) — Peggy continues to grab my
foot and shake it when I prop one leg up over the other. She laughs
delightedly whenever I cry out in surprise and mock distress /ah ah/.
Sometimes I don’t respond as quickly as she would like and thus, I
believe, Peggy has begun to address me when she grabs my toe. She
asks (so I hear it) [HOW’S THAT?] as she shakes my foot and I respond
“Terrible.” Peggy repeats the transaction a few times then goes off.

Importance —
1. Peggy is applying speech as an intensifier of our interactions, an
additional way to gain my attention when contact isn’t sufficient.

2. Does she say “How’s that?”, an idiom context-appropriate, or does
she say “Have that?” If the latter, it is a variation on her well known
and bi-directional imperative “Have that!” I hear the former and
respond in a consistent way. It could be she has gradually
differentiated this new formula from her earlier well known form and
my mis-interpretation.

3. I noticed myself, as Gretchen paused near me taking Peggy to bed
last night, shaking her foot and saying “How’s that?” I expected her to
respond “Terrible.” (N.B. This was not a planned experiment — just
what I noticed myself doing.)

4. We should ask how this sort of verbal or speech knowledge relates to
Peggy’s knowledge of names and her knowledge of prosodics. Should
we not expect to see from the interaction of these three kinds of
knowledge the sudden emergence of discourse? I believe we have here
the real solution to the puzzle of the sudden acquisition of ‘syntactic’
knowledge by the infant.


3V0502.03 TIRADES; issue: forming technical terms for phenomena appearing in
observations (6/8/79)

Tirades — I am introducing this word as a technical term in the sense in
which it appears in French and Italian drama. The tirade is a long
speech or declamatory passage by a single actor directed to an
audience but not to other actors engaged in a play with him. A
conversation, in contrast, involves turn taking and more than one

Peggy has begun to speak in a specific way we will name a ‘tirade’. Let
me describe the first such that came to my attention (Gretchen has
witnessed this before. How often?) also because it is a lucid example of
specific aspects of the tirade. Peggy and I were in the bedroom. I sat
writing and she toddled past my chair, over to the sliding glass doors.
She began speaking, not with words but in ‘sentences.’ She continued
talking, without any sound patterns recognizable as signifying to me,
but with intonation patterns and caesurae characteristic of connected
discourse. She did NOT pause or interrupt her speech to give me a turn
(to be sure, I could have interrupted her). She did not, by intonation,
request my response via interrogation.

Was this babbling? No, for I take babbling to signify the repetition of
various sound[s] but with phonological repetition at the base. What
Peggy said sounded like speech in a foreign tongue (one cognate with
ours, i.e. I could not recognize any distinctive, non-English sounds in
her repertoire). Did her speech mean anything? It conveyed nothing to
me in the incident by the door. I can not say what it meant to her, if

Peggy continued from the glass door over towards the closet, on the
lower clothes rack of which are Miriam’s dresses. She began to handle
the sleeves, speaking the while, turning to me occasionally, poking
around some more to extract the sleeve of yet another dress. This
tirade went on for at least two minutes — a significant discourse.

Importance — in the tirade we see surfacing an important kind of
linguistic knowledge — that related to the prosody of connected
discourse and the roles of conversation, i.e. speech is something you
say about a topic to another person. Peggy gives evidence of a very
flexible system of speech. What is lacking is communication through
common reference, the use of words and phrases as socially shared

The recognition of the tirade as a kind of linguistic knowledge as yet
distinct from others permits us to imagine now how Peggy will learn to
speak — i.e. we can propose a first order theory of speech acquisition.
Let’s claim three different uses of language exhibit three distinct
knowledges about language. Let the tirade be one. Let the use of words
as labels for objects (e.g. foot, nose), classes of objects (intensionally
or functionally defined — fox versus trash can) and actions (e.g.
change, get down from high chair) be the second. This second use, in
extension beyond what adults recognize as words, obviously extends to
clichés by which reference is made. The third use of language I have no
name for yet, but by it I mean that knowledge that Peggy has already
elaborated upon her use of “that.” I need a good name for this.

Conceiving of Peggy’s language knowledge as in these three systems
promises some hope of being able to observe how and precisely when
her recognizable speech emerges and from what predecessors(i.e.
there may be more or they may be different from what I have
proposed here but this proposal seems simple enough to understand
and complex enough that it has a chance of reflecting what really goes

Because I deem the documenting of Peggy’s tirades important, I have
begun a series of audio tape records (on 6/9/79) wherein I will try to
capture her speech now before she assembles effective speech
performances. Her speaking is clearly well enough developed to be
interesting and she is outspoken enough that she may say valuable
things before she understands how reference, elaboration of (assembly
of) meanings and large scale discourse are integrated.


3V0516.01 Naming cars; relation of teaching and exploration (6/22/79)

Riding Back from graduation at MIT, Peggy frequently pointed at trucks
passing in the opposite direction with her squeals of delight. We
named them for [her] “truck,” “van.” We all over subsequent days
continued this on local trips where the distinction was often made
between trucks and cars (the latter seen more frequently). This
gradually became passé.

Today, Peggy sat in her car seat, nobody paying any particular
attention. As we passed any car either on the road or parked, she
would point and say /ka/, once for each vehicle.

Relevance — This incident touches upon the problem of language use by
others, learning to recognize and associate specific sounds and
objects, and then the appearance [of] those sounds as labels in speech
production. This case shows a lag of several weeks from the beginning
of the social instruction, its becoming boring to the ‘teachers.’ The
drop in interest by others perhaps inspired Peggy to extend herself
from recognizing correspondences to producing them herself. The
slight ‘vacuum’ gave her room and motive (?) to expand her
performance. If this be a typical pattern, it implies that the best
procedure for investigating Peggy’s growing knowledge and
competence — (best for bringing it out in explicit, public behavior) —
is to cut off any verbal prompting, letting the pragmatics of the
situation call forth whatever she is capable of.

Could this be the method of “natural instruction” — and an explicit
model for education. [marginal note, partly missing: …sensitive…this
sort of instruction]


3V0517.01 Feeding the dog [Scurry…he eaten’] spontaneous production (6/23/79)

Food is one thing Scurry and Peggy have in common. Scurry follows Peg
about picking up crumbs, claiming whatever falls and is neglected, and
even receiving an occasional handout. Peggy, however, takes food from
Scurry as well as gives it to her. Thus, it is no surprise to find Peggy,
from her high chair, dropping food on the floor, then peering over the
edge to watch Scurry eat. What was surprising was Peggy’s comment to
me when I asked, “Peggy, what are you doing?” Her reply was
[Scurry…he eaten’]. This last was /i en/ (the /t/ was omitted, but the
pronoun was definitely there following a pause).

Relevance — This is a spontaneous example of Peggy’s speech
production. It is already a definitely meaningful comment about an
activity in [which] Peggy was engaged and thus contrasts directly with
the uncommunicative tirade of speech production.


3V0528.01 Naming [shoe]#3. Silly instruction? “Right, that’s a shoe and you put it
on your head” [foot]…[but = clasp] (7/4/79)

This morning Peggy played in the bedroom as I sat in my chair. Peggy
picked up one of Gretchen’s white sandals and said [shoe]. Gretchen
asked if I heard. I said so and then to Peggy, “Right. That’s a shoe and
you put it on your head.” Peggy looked puzzled by my nonsense and
after a short pause said /fut/, which I interpret as [foot]. She then
pointed to the clasp and said /b/\t/.

Relevance — This bit of nonsense I said shows, by her response, not
merely that Peggy knows shoes go on feet but that [she] applied some
understanding of what I said to what she was doing and knew, rejected
what I said and expressed her own idea. I am somewhat confused now
about why I think this is important. [Later addition: no longer so. cf.
Mallory’s [Selfridge] “Joshua, get on the tape recorder.”]


3V0545.01 VERBAL LABELS: 07/21/79;

Peggy frequently points to or touches things saying “that” with an
intonation not signifying interrogation. I would say she uses the
standard declarative intonation except that it might imply an intention
— but that is precisely what we don’t know. Does she mean “Look at
that” ? “I recognize that” ? “What’s that ?” My uncertainty has led me
to rebound a question back at her: “what’s that ?” Her typical response,
for example when reading Scientific American and asked about a car, is
to locate and point to another instance of the thing, thus:

P: [pointing at car picture] That
B: What’s that ?
P: [flipping pages till she finds another picture of a car] That |

Does Peggy know that the word “car” ? Surely. But she prefers to
answer “what’s that?” by finding another instance in what she considers the same class.
Does Peggy use verbal labels to say what a thing is ? Yes, as this example makes clear.
The Hunt family lives adjacent to the beach on White Birch Lane. They
have cats and the cats have kittens — there have been as many as 30 at
one time in the house. Thus cats come down to the beach. They amaze
and delight Peggy. She has been told they are “cats”. Back at our house
we have no cats (Miriam’s allergies) and very few pictures of them.
Peggy sometimes uses a hand-me-down cup of Miriam’s with a three
kitten picture on it. She brought it to me for filling. I poured in juice.
Peggy pointed to one of the cats in the picture and said [cat] clearly and

We can see the process of specifying what a thing is as relating it to
another exemplar of the same class. The verbal label is used as a
substitute specifying-exemplar when no object specifying-exemplar is
An alternative interpretation that fits the observation: the label is used
in referring to a memory of a specifying-exemplar based on personal
experience (since that memory, though present, is essentially private, it
MUST be indicated indirectly). Thus Peggy specifies what the cat-on-
the-cup IS by locating another exemplar, her memory of the specific,
black, skinny cat she had petted earlier that day at the beach. The
function of the name is communicative (and serves others desires such
as confirming that the kitten-on-the-cup is properly identified)
precisely as is the more public procedure of locating another object
specifying exemplar.


3V0545.02 /va/va’/ : 07/21/79;

Today (Saturday) Miriam got an allergy shot. Peggy came along for the
ride. When we returned to our car, a station wagon with a large white
dog (Samoyed?) had parked next to us. I pointed the animal out – “See
Peggy, see the nice dog.” Peggy looked and replied /va/va’/. The dog
had not made a sound, and Peggy clearly used the word to refer to the
animal itself, or “the animal that barks”. Gretchen.


3V0550.01 [is a stairs] (7/26/79)

Recently Peggy has been using the phrase “Is a X”. This use has been in
a context we would interpret as declaring the identification of a thing.
It may not mean that to Peggy. It may mean that and other things as
well, as this observation suggests.

I recently refinished a picnic table and assembled it in the basement.
Gretchen brought Peggy down with her when she came to see it. As we
adults talked for a while, Peggy toddled off down the hall. ” Hey Peggy.
Where you goin’ ?” I queried. [is a stairs] she replied.

This appears to be another example of an utterance whose non-
standard use implies a significant lack of distinction. Does Peggy have
only one phrase in her repertoire for question answering ? Does she
recognize only one question ? What might that be like ? “What are you
focused on now ?” To which her [is a X] is frequently the anticipated


3V0559.01 “Daddy Hug Peggy” : 08/04/79;

Comforting the baby, it was our custom to hold her close and pat her
gently on the back. Amusingly, when she was so comforted, even
though crying, Peggy would return this gentle patting on the back.
Recently, she has begun responding to my statement or question
“Daddy hug Peggy” by toddling close to me, ready to receive a hug.
After my many previous huggings of her toy fox and bear,
accompanied by verbal description, e.g. “Daddy hug Foxy,” Peggy
would hug her toy and would eventually do so in response to a verbal
command (if she wanted to). Sitting in my lap today, I said, “Daddy hug
Peggy.” Her response was to come to me (i.e. lean over to my torso),
put her head on my chest sideways, and put her arms around my waist;
i.e. Peggy hugged me. The activity is the first, with explicit verbal
connection, wherein agent and patient can be interchanged. As such, it
can show both Peggy’s pristine interpretation and can be used as a test
vehicle to explore when and how Peggy begins connecting surface word
order with different roles.

The pristine interpretation of “Daddy hug Peggy” and “Peggy hug
Daddy” is order invariant and seems to be “Daddy and Peggy hug each
other.” This construction of mine reflects an earlier conception of
Mimi Sinclair’s (for older babies, i.e. several years of age) but more
importantly springs out of the evidence itself both of this incident and
Peggy’s earlier “patting.”


3V0563.01 Scissors : 08/08/79;

Prospecting for playthings one place or another, Peggy came up with a
pair of children’s safety scissors. Even though they have rounded ends,
I feared Peggy could hurt herself by pinching her fingers and bade her
put them on my writing table. After putting them down, Peggy pointed
at them decisively and said, “That.” Turning to me, she repeated,
“That.” I responded, “Scissors. Those are scissors.” Peggy tried a
pronunciation which might have been /***/ (I distrust the memory as
too pat). I corrected pronunciation. “Yes, those are scissors.”
Peggy turned away and began playing with the sleeves and hems of
clothes hung in the closet behind my writing table. While doing so,
speaking entirely to herself and not attending to the writing table or its
contents, Peggy said [scissors].

Relevance: What we witness here is an infant either rehearsing or
practicing a new word. Did she recall it later? Of course. Gretchen
reports Peggy entered the girls’ room and seeing the same safety
scissors on Miriam’s bed, said, “Scissors.” Did she apply the name to
others? Indeed she did, naming as ‘scissors’ the crude kitchen shears
with which I cut a piece of twine.


3V0573.01 See and That: 08/18/79;

Scurry looms large in Peggy’s life, and it should be no surprise that she
was much delighted to find among our other books one on “Caring for
Your Scotch Terrier.” After bringing the book to me, Peggy turned
pages and pointed. [That…that…see]. In this usage, I see prefigured a
functional split, i.e. “see that” versus “what is the name of that” and
“that is a thing I recognize.” Where has SEE come from? Nowhere
surprising, my speech or Gretchen’s or the children’s. The pattern here
is one of differentiated verbal expressions applied without apparent
distinction to a single phenomenon (the variegated verbal expressions
are socially given).


3V0573.02 Enriched Phrases : 08/18/79;

Peggy has long said [have that] meaning either [(you) have that] or [(I
want to) have that] as the pragmatic context makes sufficiently clear.
In a typical scenario today, Peggy was unnecessarily specific in her
utterance, thus. Peggy frequently plunks some object (a book or toy) in
one’s lap, says “have that” and indicates her desire to lap-sit. Today
she placed a doll in my lap and said /***/. When I asked “Who have the
doll?” she responded [get up], and coming around my knee, made
clear it was she who should “get up.”

Relevance: Peggy here strung together two utterances which we would
recognize as ‘phrases.’ [have doll] was unnecessarily specific. I
interpret its use as a sure sign that the utterance “have that” has
become a two-element phrase with one variable. Contrast “get up” with
the contrary “get down” (Peggy interprets both adequately) which may
be more easily conceived as two related idioms with a common
utterance core (/***/), whose commonality may be more accidental
than meaningful (as perceived by the child).


3V0575.01 “Duff”: 08/20/79;

Peggy has been imitating words we speak (usually the last one of an
utterance) for quite some time. If I note anything special about this
imitation now, it is its becoming so pervasive as to be the norm in her
response now. When offered some cake this evening, Peggy responded
/***/ to Miriam’s question, “Would you like to have some cake,
Peggy?” When censured (by me) for removing table cloths from a
cabinet and told to “close the door,” Peggy continued to get out table
cloths — but referred to the door by its name.

When playing a game of Miriam’s invention — one where Miriam
emptied then inverted as a cap some bags for carrying apples and
began marching to “hup…hup…hup…hup” — when Miriam ran away
from Peggy and hid in the stairwell, Peggy followed her path, looking
for her with an inquiring “hup?”

The flexible use of words as mobile labels is most clear in another
incident from today’s luncheon. Peggy came begging at the table —
where she probably expected more of the American cheese I had given
her before — but she came to Gretchen indicating that she wanted
something to eat (I believe she said [one one one] but it may have been
non-verbal). Gretchen asked, “Would you like some baloney, Peggy?”
Peggy looked blank and responded [one one one]. Gretchen explained,
showing her a piece. “It’s this round stuff.” Peggy agreed almost
frantically [duf duf duf].

Relevance: In the last example, Peggy builds a verbal non-standard
‘word’ from the salient sounds at the end of the phrase which
describes the object of her desire and which she appears to assume is
the name of the thing she wants (at least it is the utterance she must
produce to get some).


3V0578.01 Up: [up] different use; spontaneous on sitting up: 08/23/79;

Playing with me on my bed, Peggy, after lying on her back at one point,
rose with her normal difficulty to sitting and said to herself, “Up.”
08/27 — Playing with a matchbox racer, Peggy pushed the little car
along the floor, up the vertical walls of the glass door, over to the
dresser and on its side, making all the while a /ZIZ/ZIZ/ZIZ/ sound (this
imitates our noises made as we move our hands in wide gestures to
tickle her). When she drove her little car over the upper edge of the
dresser onto the horizontal surface, Peggy said to herself, “Up.”

Relevance: In Gretchen’s note of Up (224) and these two observations,
we see Peggy clearly apply three distinct meanings of ‘up.’ The
occurrence of them within this short time span, and their unsolicited
occurrence, testify that some process of discrimination is at work on
the range of meanings to which ‘up’ is applied. The point I drive to is
an ascription: Peggy has experienced some insight, one of word [use]
comprehension, which has increased for her the salience of the word
‘up.’ Using the word ‘up’ for three quite different denotations, she can
thus connect and discriminate the relations instantiated in each of the

Peggy now uses ‘up’ to signify either that she wants me to hold her
(standing), to take her in my lap or some object from her precedent to
her sitting in my lap.


3V0579.01 “On, on on” : 08/24/79;

Later the next day, while Gretchen rubbed some lotion on herself after
a bath, Peggy, sitting on the bed, pointed repeatedly at her own thighs
and said repeatedly “on, on, on.” (The tone and gesture made this
imperious rather than declarative.)


3V0581.01 Increased Specificity: 8/26/79;

By now it is clear that Peggy is trying to communicate (orally) on a
wider scale. “Dat, dat, dat” lacked any specificity and soon outran its
usefulness. She then developed a remarkable range by merely varying
the pitch on a neutral syllable [***], repeated several times. Now she
seems to be trying hard to be more specific in her communications,
since pitch has been taken to its limits. Perhaps she has developed this
willingness for oral communication from observing our reactions to
her noises. Attention is prompt, but service is often slow because we
don’t know what she is after. But we question her out loud [is it this,
do you want ____, etc.] trying to find what is on her mind. She can see
that there are many different things to say, and saying the “right”
words leads to swifter and better (from her point) reactions from
others, i.e. she gets what she is after and gets it faster.


3V0581.01 On: [on]: three different applications of “on” similar to concurrent
discriminating uses of [up].: 8/26/79;

This morning Peggy clambered into my bed where I waked from a nap.
She sat beside me, pointing with her right hand at her left upper arm.
She said /”on”/ at least four times in succession. I was much perplexed
at this third application of “on,” thought perhaps Peggy might be here
confusing it with /”arm”/ [arm].

Later Gretchen explained that Peggy’s Holly Hobby doll the day previous
lost an arm and that Gretchen had described it to Peggy (in lieu of
repairing the doll), “Oh, the arm has come off.” Subsequently, when
we played together later, (to discriminate whether she was saying
/”on”/ or /”arm”/) I pointed to Peggy’s left upper arm and said “off.”
She corrected me immediately /”on”/ /”on”/, indicating that she was
not confused at all about what my reference might mean.

Relevance: I find this triple application of “on” striking as it occurs in
conjunction with the similar 3-part discrimination witnessed for “up.”
There is no magic in ‘3’, but if one asks for a next similar, small
number consequent to simple connection of knowledges or division, 3
comes after 2 and seems no more arbitrary than the 5 or 6-fold
duplication Marvin’s theory suggests.


3V0586.02 /bae/bae/: general purpose word (noun) where /thaet/ was the general word of imperious force. 8/31/79

Over the past week or two, this sound pattern has taken over Peggy’s
speech. It seems to have replaced /thaet/ in the latter’s application as
the general pronoun, i.e. “baba” may refer to Peggy’s Teddy Bear, my
pillow, a desired cookie or whatever. The latter is especially striking
because “cookie” has long been stable in Peggy’s lexicon.

Relevance: Speculation: Baba has become the general noun where
/thaet/ was the general utterance, sentence, or phrase.


3V0587.01 /cul’/du/vae/vae’/: CENTRAL INCIDENT;
major insight ascribed on basis of incident. 9/1/79

Over the past several weeks, our house has suffered a greater than
usual density and flux of Tintin cartoon books. As do the older kids,
Peggy enjoys them. She brings a magazine, says /aen//aen/ and
convinces one to hold her in his lap while she turns the pages and
points to various figures with little squeals of delight. Her favorite
character is “Snowy”, the little white dog and Tintin’s persistent
companion. When she points to the dog, we tell her it’s “Snowy”, but
Peggy has settled on her own term /cuhlduh/ (variously /cai/duh/ and
/cai/dae/ as her name for Snowy.

Now Peggy has in the past referred to our Scotty as [Scurry] (more or
less) and most recently used /vae/vae/ to refer to Scurry or some
distant barking dog. The point is that /vae/vae/ seems more related to
barking than to “dogginess” as such. One might think of her use
nominally as equivalent to “barker.” Therefore /cul/duh/ seemed
merely a new and different name for Snowy… but we were fooled, for
Peggy began to call Scurry /cul/duh/ and now does so regularly.

This evening, Peggy sat in my lap for a while. Scurry was waiting to be
taken out for her evening walk and Gretchen took the dog on her lap to
groom her a little. This is unusual and Peggy pointed at her /cul/duh/
(she said). Peggy got down, wandered off and behind my chair. The
dog began to growl on hearing a distant bark. Peg pointed at her
excitedly /vae/vae/, /vae/vae/. I responded in her tongue:
/cul/duh/vae/vae/, at which Peggy’s face lit up with a broad beaming
smile (so Gretchen notes and described it; I was looking the other way.)

Relevance: We both recognize this as an exciting moment of insight
into verbal communication for Peggy. She wanted to very much to
express her meaning “the dog barks”: but could not except by pointing
and saying /vae/vae/ simultaneously. My expression exemplified how
serial order expresses the subject-predicate relation in her vocabulary
and context. I judged then, and still hold (9/9/79), that this incident
marks the beginning of Peggy’s knowledge of generative syntax. That
is, here, Peggy learned how to assemble subject and predicate to
express a thought already formed, as distinct from expressing
idiomatically a thought “associable” with the idiom. I take this to be
one of the most important observations in this record.


3V0587.02 [I threw it]:

Before the incident described above (in Vignette V0586A), Peggy,
Gretchen and I sat in the living room, Peggy playing with Gretchen’s
wallet. She picked it up and threw it across the room, under a chair. I
censured her “No, Peggy, no. Don’t do that.” She responded, talking to
herself it seems [I threw it]

The difficulty in interpreting this utterance is its lack of clarity (my
memory also). Was the vowel /o/ or /u/ ? or did I say “Don’t throw
things.” Did this really happen before the preceding incident or after it ?
Gretchen ? (no note made in response.)


3V0588.01 [mine…box]: “sentences” with pauses; precursors to standard
structures. 9/2/79

Playing in the living room, Peggy recognized a large card board box in
which I kept blocks et alia for our experiments. Robby has just picked
up all the junk left scattered about by Peggy the day before. She
struggled to pull the box off the low hearth. It was heavy. [Mine] (still
tugging) she said, and after a while…[box].

The question here is whether these two utterances were intended as
one. Did Peggy mean that the box was hers ? Or did she mean two
things ? First an assertion of ownership; secondly, something like an
exhortation to the box to come along with her tugging ? No certainty,
but I believe the latter to be true.


3V0588.03 /wae/thaet/: interpretation question “what’s that? ” or “wash that” (cf. note # 3V593.1) 9/2/79

While Peggy was playing in the kitchen, Gretchen washed out a large old
diaper pail we use for trash. It was not on the floor and vertical, in
which place and position Peggy knew it well, so I interpreted her
questions /wae/thaet/? to mean [what’s that?]

Gretchen’s interpretation was different. She heard Peggy describing her
activity, i.e. [wash that.]


3V0591.01 [on]: draw a heart on my arm. 9/5/79

Another case of “on” meaning “put something on my arm” — Peggy and
Miriam both sat on my lap. I drew a heart on the back of Miriam’s
hand. Peggy held up her hand crying [on… on… on… ] so that I should
also draw a heart on her hand. She was contented when I did so.


3V0593.01 [maemae take bath]: CENTRAL NOTE: first complex follow up to /cul’/du/vae/vae’/ 9/7/79

This morning, as Peggy and I played on the bed, Gretchen asked if I
were going to take a bath, and we agreed she should do so first. Peggy
played with her bear, picked up a book, called out “Mama !” and
received no direct answer — for at that moment Gretchen opened the
tap to draw her bath. Hearing the sound, Peggy turned to me and said
[Mama take bath].

Relevance: I consider this production extremely important as an
unquestionable example of a sentence generated as a comment on the
immediate context and growing out of Peggy’s concerns (ie. why didn’t
Gretchen answer). That is, I don’t see how this utterance could be a
fixed, memorized idiom. I interpret it to be a two element catenation,
MAMA and TAKE-BATH, both of which were independently meaningful
and recently salient in the ambience, i.e. Gretchen and I both referred
to taking baths and Peggy has just called out “Mama.”

Notice well that this simple catenation follows upon Peggy’s insight
(ascribed in the discussion of /cul/duh/vae/vae/; vignette V0586A)
that simple catenation expressed in the utterance conventions of
English the two aspects of agent and action. The insight has become an
element of structure used in production.

If my ascription of an insight to Peggy and witnessing its latter
application be accurately traced in these incidents — should not one
ask “Is it surprising that few have witnessed the critical developments
of language knowledge in the context and experience of infants and
prefer instead some alternative explanation.”


3V0594.01 /wae/thaet/: issues: discussion of what a word is. 9/8/79

Peggy has enjoyed playing with my belt as a baby but has not done so
for quite a while. Today, she sat in my lap and, pointing at my belt
buckle, said, “/wae/thaet/?” I told her it was a belt buckle, which
answer seemed to satisfy her.

Relevance: This pair of incidents highlights the difficulty of ascribing
competence from performance — but they also show the extent to
which context of utterance, the pragmatics of speech, makes it
possible. Thus:
1. it is clear that Peggy uses /wae/thaet/ to mean “what’s that?”
2. she may also use it to mean “wash that”, but such would be a more
restricted meaning and would become, if not be essentially, secondary.
These observations are important because they come down on the issue
of what a word is. That is, is /wae/thaet/ an idiom or two words of
distinguishable meaning ? I believe the former is the case.


3V0594.02 ONE, TWO: [one, two]: note on standardization of Peggy’s counting

You can’t avoid counting, and it’s hard to avoid instructing those who
don’t know what you know — but we’ve been trying to avoid instructing
Peggy. The children are persistent, at odd moments that we can’t
witness. So Peggy’s idiosyncratic counting [one, one, one,…
undecipherable noise] gave way to the more nearly standard
utterance [one two] in contexts of counting as follows: Peggy sees
me drink beer from a can and customarily names that object /kaen/.
She also looks in trash baskets. Today she came upon two in the trash
and said: [can…one…two] where the last had the sound /du(z)/. (The
notation (z) means here that I did not hear the z sound but Gretchen
did). No pointing, unfortunately.


3V0594.03 /cul’/dae/gen’/: elaboration of verbal portion of script for exploration beyond simple pragmatic requirements. 9/8/79

Peggy enjoys playing with Scurry in different ways, but most of them
share the element of her getting Scurry to move where she wants her.
The usual form involves tugging the dog’s tail or ear.

Tonight, Peggy found Scurry with her leash attached, and Scurry,
perhaps hoping vainly that Peggy would take her for a walk, was quite
willing to follow on the lead. So Peggy began running from the living
room to the kitchen and back again, delighting in her effective
command of the dog. After a few round trips, she began to say aloud
/ken/ at the end of each trip as she slowed down for the return. I
interpreted this instantaneously as “I can lead Scurry.” but her meaning
either changed quickly or became clearer as different…
Scurry started showing resistance — to the extent that Peggy had to tug
hard on the lead to get her started moving. The /k/ became /g/ and
/gen/ accompanied the tugging. As Scurry became increasingly
resistant, Peggy addressed Scurry: /cul/duh/… /cul/duh/gen/.

Relevance: Here is a case when an agent is further specified than the
context of pragmatics requires, for exhortation — at least for gaining
the agent’s attention. The action specified by the context and the sense
is “Scurry, (do it) again.” The structure of the sense is clearly present.
The words of (more or less) common speech are being gradually filled
in for the sake of effective communication.


3V0594.04 [mommy, get door]: vocative action sentence. 9/8/79

Running the dishwasher. The last thing to go in was Peggy’s cup. she
called after it [cup, cup, cup…]. Then she scrabbled at the closed door
of the machine, finally turning to me and saying “Mommy” (not
momma) “get door.”


3V0597.02 Gotcha: a game – shows fluidity of actions and control over them at the complete and partial changes of rules (see also P.85)

Peggy has long played a game with me where she would come between
my knees and I would give her a gentle squeeze, saying “gotcha”. Her
control of the game was very clear in such acts as putting her arm
between my legs as bait and in her squeezing my knees together when I
showed a reluctance to play. Today, a new development. Peggy
presented her toy “Bearhug” for squeezing. When I realized her
intention, I complied, but at her first presenting the bear I was
confused, thinking she wanted me to hug the bear, which I did. Peggy
was unhappy and taking the bear with one hand, she held it between
my knees and trying to close my knees with a hand on one she said

What I see as interesting here is the fluid relation of our actions and the
control of them and the complete and partial changing of roles
between hugger and victim. (confer also P85) where this is


3V0603.01 [cup…mama]: word catenation used to express an instantaneous relation that later becomes syntactically expressed. 9/17/79

Peggy sat in my lap while I sipped at my morning coffee. She has lately
been naming the containers from which I drink things, e.g. /kaen/ for a
beer can and /kuhp/ for such a one as she pointed out this morning.
After Peggy had just named my cup, Gretchen walked by carrying her
cup. Peggy commented [cup mama]. Thus, the sequence of words was
[cup (referring to mine)…(pause)… cup mama].

Importance: this is another example of word catenation used to express
an instantaneous relation that later becomes syntactically expressed.
The pragmatics clearly shows Peggy commenting on Gretchen’s
possession of the cup. That is, her intention and knowledge of
relations was clearly more specific and much further developed,
refined, than her means of expression.


3V0605.01 [kiss]: kisses doll spontaneously; verbal self-direction 9/19/79

While I was working in the kitchen, Peggy walked by holding a doll. She
held it up , said “kiss” and kissed the doll. A week later (9/26) Peggy
repeated this with me, saying spontaneously [kiss] and leaning over to
kiss me. (text repeated in 3V0611.1). Gretchen.


3V0609.01 [light off]: complex situation represented by order free catenation of
words. 9/23/79

Peggy and I have played with a flash light recently, which I switched on
and off and gave to her to play with. I named it for her as a “light”
which she reproduced as /lait/.

Peggy has since found lights everywhere and continually points then out
by naming. Thus she was excited to discover light bulbs in lamps,
fluorescent lights in our stairwell, and globular ceiling lights at the
library. I can no longer recall the specific incident and circumstance
wherein Peggy said [light off]. did I turn off a lamp ? Did Peggy see a
lamp in the “off” state which she usually sees “on” ?

In either case (or some other) a complex situation is represented by a
simple expression catenating two known words. There i no indication
that order is involved as a primary element of the expression. It might
be possible to argue for a topic and comment structure in this case.


3V0612.02 [help…zzzzz]: ie. please wind up my toy car. 9/26/79

Conversation: Peggy “He’p” Gretchen: Help? do you want some help ?
What do you want help with ?” Peggy: [Zzzz…] She wanted me to
wind up a little spring driven car. Gretchen.


3V0612.03 Getting a name wrong: [pooh pooh]: Tiger in Madeline (=> a new word = last phrase in discourse) 9/26/79

[Pooh pooh] (with falling intonation). Reading Madeline today. As we
turned the page which shows the little girls skating (left) and at the zoo
(right), Peggy immediately pointed to the tiger in the right hand picture
and said, “pooh pooh.” [(This is what Madeline says to the tiger in the
zoo.) Several days later, she identified her toy stuffed tiger as “pooh-
pooh.” Gretchen.


3V0612.04 Word practice: (“terrible” = /teh/bu/) 9/26/79

This morning, changing Peggy’s diaper, I remarked to her “Poor Peggy.
You are wet and soggy. That’s terrible.” Later on in the day, I heard
Peggy repeating something to herself. Listening, I heard /teh/buh/. She
repeated the word a number of times, as if practicing. Gretchen.