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Archive with last of tag-string Q6


3V0465.01 “Have Peggy”: adults adjust speech to her understanding (5/early/79)

Peggy has wanted to be picked up a lot lately. Her way of indicating this
is very annoying — she typically comes to where Gretchen is, grabs
Gretchen’s pants leg, and wails. Could we get her to say ‘Up’? No.
Gretchen began saying “Have Peggy?” and continues doing so, even
though this has not inspired Peggy to say what she wants.

Importance — this documents the way we change our speech to try
communicating so that Peggy can understand. There is no implication,
of course, that such speech changes make any difference.


3V0472.01 Doing “Headstands” (5/9/79)

Once she started toddling about, Peggy began “headstands,” i.e. with
her feet firmly planted wide apart, she brings her head and hands down
to the floor and peers between her legs. Peggy has done this several
times when I was nearby and, catching my eye, laughed gleefully as if
this were some sort of a joke (Perhaps in the sense that peek-a-boo is a
joke?). This is a common act among babies. What does it signify ?


3V0483.01 [That’s a pup] (5/20/79)

Robby’s National Geographic World subscription brings other materials
beside the magazine into the house. Beside the vixen and pup poster
(and others) occasionally a small set of ‘cards’ arrives. one recent set
was of various types of dogs. Peggy looked at one with two basset
hounds. “What’s that?” I asked. Peggy paused and replied [That’s a


3V0484.01 Observation Hiatus while thesis completed. (5/21/79)

Completing my thesis on time for this semester’s graduation has been a
primary disaster for the natural observations of Peggy’s development.
I regret this lost material profoundly, and fear that it is from the period
of development which would have been most illuminating about
subsequent appearances of order in Peggy’s speech and more general
problem solving.

(later note: most of the observations from early April through this date
are reconstructions, based on a list of events jotted down on a
chalkboard in my study.)


3V0485.01 Action initiation; observations of symbolic ‘up’ from discussions with
Mimi Sinclair (5/22/79)

I discussed Peggy’s development with Mimi Sinclair and we reviewed a
video tape or two. She encouraged me to continue with the study till
Peggy is at least two years old. We discussed several topics.

Peggy and shoes — Peggy has no shoes of her own. (This is true at 16
months, 5/22/79, as it was six weeks ago). She has never had baby
shoes put on her. In cold weather, when her dress has not built-in
‘socks’, she has had socks put on her feet. Consequently, her attempt
currently and even earlier to put her feet in others’ shoes is as clear a
case of imitation as one could ask for. Peggy continues to put her feet
in others’ shoes; once she walked across the room with one moccasin
of mine; yesterday it was Miriam’s cowgirl boots.

The token ‘up’ revisited — When I discussed this topic with Mimi, she
found it interesting but not convincing. Were there any clear signs that
Peggy wanted to be picked up? How did she indicate this normally? Did
she follow or precede this token with such behavior?

In our conversations, I could not agree that she had done so.
Thereafter, it became common for Peggy to place a toy in my lap then
indicate (by flapping her arms, by making eager noises and smiling, by
placing her hands in her armpits) that she also wanted to be in my lap.
Sometimes I refused to pick her up and she indicated her frustration
(crying was usually reserved for cases of minor hurts when I did not
pick her up at once).

Mimi’s general advice on the experiments was that I should try to be
less intrusive…. Perhaps this will be possible in the future if I get more
time to plan the weekly experiments.


3V0485.02 Game-agent flexibility precursor to language (5/22/79)

Toe grabbing — We grownups tickle Peggy (so do the older children)
and she enjoys it. She has begun to try tickling us in return. Her
attempts are good imitations although not very effective. (She holds
her hand over a patch of skin and scratches [with] all her fingers one
after the other.

Another form of activity in which Peggy has ‘turned around’ the agent-
patient relation is ‘toe grabbing.’ Ofttimes when she carries Peggy past
me, Gretchen stops for a moment. Since she is usually standing and I
am sitting, Peggy’s foot is about hand height and it is my custom to
tickle her foot or grab her foot and wiggle it gently. Early in May, Peggy
toddled over to my chair, grabbed a hold of my big toe and shook it.
She looked at me expectantly, so I made loud noises of surprise. Peggy
was delighted. She has kept up this toe grabbing and has even attacked
my feet from under the dining room table. This apparently delights her
and is quite reminiscent of her cranking Scurry’s tail (which she
enjoys, doubtless, more than the dog does).

Importance — the turning-around of agent-patient relations is an
important precursor in action to structural flexibility in the use of


3V0485.03 Napping and Symbolic Play (5/22/79)

Napping — Sometimes when Peggy is playing in my lap, she will stop for
a while and lay her head down on my chest. She keeps her eyes open.
Peggy does this in other situations, not on people. For example,
yesterday she was bouncing on Miriam’s bed (she stands precariously
then definitely lets herself go, falling backward and bouncing on her
rump). In between these exercises, Peggy lay down her head on
Miriam’s pillow. Sometimes she smiles or laughs when she does it. It’s
a common activity of hers.

Importance — Could this “napping” be the precursor to that first
species of symbolic play, pretending-to-sleep? Since she does not close
her eyes, that significant aspect of sleeping is missing…but perhaps
Peggy doesn’t know that one closes his eyes in sleep? (She shares a
room with Miriam and surely has seen her [lie] in bed with closed


3V0485.04 Action Imitation — Helpful Peggy (5/22/79)

Last Thursday or Friday I was washing windows using the Ritz cloth then
wiping down with an old linen dishtowel. Peggy noticed what I was
doing, and while I was working on the sliding glass doors downstairs,
she disappeared for a moment and returned with the dish towel that
she found hanging from the refrigerator door. She had it bunched up
and was making ‘wiping’ motions in the air.


3V0491.01 Peggy hiding by closing her eyes; no sense of how others see her (5/28/79)

Peggy likes to hide and play chase. The way she hides is reminiscent of
playing peek-a-book [sic]. She will run to the corner of a wall and its
perpendicular projection and put her head in the corner. When I cry
out “Where’s Peggy?” she will peek and smile and hide her head again.

Playing chase with Miriam, Peggy shows the same sort of behavior. Her
most common hiding place is the corner formed by a cabinet and wall.
This gives her room to hide, but she not merely gets out of sight of the
chaser, she goes deep into the corner, puts her head there, and closes
her eyes.

Today (June 8th) Peggy hid in a different context. She was mad at me
because she wanted to go downstairs and the gate was closed. As she
came crying back to me (I sat in the bedroom), I condescendingly tried
to jollify her. Peggy was unconsoled and hid her head in the corner of
the hallway and the door jamb to the bedroom.

Importance — Peggy seems to have no sense at all of how she appears to
another. Like the ostrich who hides his head in the sand, Peggy acts as
though she does not see herself as others see her. We can consider this
note as capturing a starting point in the expected, long-developing
dissociation of points of view from primary egocentrism.


3V0491.02 [Mommom, mo] (05/28/79)

Waving her milk cup at me, Peggy said, “Mommom, mo’.” (unclear if
that last meant ‘more’ or ‘milk’)


3V0492.01 New Car Seat Opens up Peggy’s World (5/29/79)

Ever since the children got some real bargains at a tag sale last summer,
they have been followers of local tag sales. They take whatever cash they
can scrape up and spend it all, giving away their loot in case they can
not imagine a use for it and to justify the spending. Miriam bought
Peggy a crib toy and Robby bought her a set of little wheeled racing
animals some days ago. The next day, Miriam recalled seeing on sale
for $5. a car seat, which we need now that Peggy has outgrown her
infant seat. Gretchen purchased and I repaired the new car seat for
Peggy. A small thing this seems to be, but it has changed Peggy’s access
to the world significantly.

No longer does Peggy ride in a car facing backwards and below the level
of the window sill. She sits up, facing forward and looks out on the
world. Peggy has enjoyed coming outside to ride in her swing, play in
the sand box, or just walk about, say up the driveway to where Scurry
is tied. She has complained when brought in. But now her complaints
are getting more vehement. She even gestures inside, that she wants to
go outside. She has been so eager to go for rides that later on (June
4th) she rode all the way to Boston and back the next day without any
significant fussing.

Importance: This simple furniture addition, the new car seat, has
opened wider Peggy’s access to the world. When she goes shopping
with Gretchen, now she can see variety in the world about her as she
moves through it.


3V0493.01 Fragmentary sound knowledge contrast to prosodics (5/30/79)

Diaper = /dai/ — Peggy needed changing this morning — so I believed —
and Gretchen upstairs agreed to do it. Peggy was complaining loudly,
toddling around and smacking her plastic pants. To make certain, I
asked, “What do you want, Peggy?” She replied [die] (/dai/) and
toddled over to the stairs eagerly.

When we got upstairs, Gretchen was folding laundry. I asked her not to
use any of her normal phrases. She asked something like “What shall
we do, Peggy?” Peggy, grabbing her plastic pants and smiling, said /gi/
and ran (at a fast toddle) into her bedroom.

Importance — It is very difficult to capture the sense of an infant’s
knowledge of names in speech production. These two incidents focus
on a situation where Peggy’s meanings were clear to me from the
pragmatics. In her attempts to respond to questions, we see her
produce parts of sound patterns we associated with the name ‘diaper’
and the action ‘change’. This very fragmentary speech knowledge
contrasts amazingly with the performances which witness Peggy’s rich
prosodic knowledge described in the later notes under the heading


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.


3V0494.02 [That’s a good girl] (5/31/79)

I was working in the kitchen. Peggy went around to the stairs, rattled
the gate (I don’t know if it was open or closed), then said quite slowly
and distinctly “That’s a good gir-l” (making two syllables of the last
word). Gretchen.


3V0495.01 Spills: Peggy mopping them up (6/1/79)

Spills, of course, are common with Peggy. Today she got some milk on
the floor. Somehow she got a towel (probably a regular cloth one from
the refrigerator door handle) and mopped at the spills on the floor.
We gave her a paper towel to work with. thereafter, when there are
spills, or she pours her milk out on her tray, we hand Peggy a paper
towel and let her mop it up. She does so, quite well. Gretchen.


3V0495.02 Pretending; incorrect choice as a joke (6/01/79)

Late in the afternoon I found myself waiting at home for two telephone
calls while Gretchen took the cub scouts on a trip. Peggy played in my
care and during the hour and more the following incidents occurred:
Pretending: Peggy of pulls dishes and other utensils from a cabinet with
low shelves. She pulled out and emptied a coffee jar. The lid to that
specific jar has a lip on it. It’s general appearance is like the surface of
the shield for Peggy’s drinking cup./ Peggy picked up the jar, lifted it to
her lips and “drank” from it. She turned to me and smiled. Was she
pretending to drink ? Did she expect milk to come out of the empty jar
(it was a transparent jar – but her cup is opaque). Is it possible she was
trying on the chance that it might work ? Or just to be sure that it
would not work ?

If she were disappointed, would she have smiled when she put the jar
down and looked at me ? Could we see here a very early example of
“incorrect-choice-interpreted-as-a-joke: as in the examples of Miriam’s
“going-flying” bug in CECD ?


3V0495.03 Putting herself into things: hats and more (6/01/79)

Peggy has played with Robby’s Boston Red Sox protective helmet. The
children or I place it on her head when she brings it to us – and replace
it when it falls off, as it always does. Peggy extracted a large colander
from those low shelves, put it on her head, and toddled about the

Peggy has been putting her feet into shoes for a while, has even tried to
get socks on her feet. With that same colander which served as a hat,
she extended its use as a thing for putting the whole self into. This use
may have been inspired by a game of Miriam’s: she took a large box
(left from the new encyclopedia set), attached a strong (string? rope?) to the front
flap, and declared it a cart; both girls were happy when Miriam pulled
Peggy about the downstairs. Peggy has since then climbed into the box
by herself (a difficult job for her because of its height.)


3V0495.04 “Who’s Peggy?” (She points to herself: [That]) (6/1/79)

Later Peggy sat in my lap. Among other games, I asked her, “Who’s
Peggy?” She replied by raising her right hand behind her ear, with her
forefinger extended, and touched her head, saying “That” very


3V0495.05 Foxy

Coming around the corner of the butcher block, when I called her
because of a splashing noise, Peggy hove into view carrying her toy fox.
I asked her if she had been ” giving Foxy a drink” She dropped it in my
lap and said “Fox.”


3V0497.01 Comprehends [Daddy have the brush]; she gets it (6/3/79)

Peggy comes in the bathroom whenever I take a bath. She likes me to
wind up a little plastic duck and let it paddle about in the water. Today
after watching the duck, she picked up a hair brush from the side of
the tub, [and] stroked her head. I named the brush. Peggy then toddled
out of the bathroom. I expected her to return with it, but she came
back empty handed. I said to her, “Daddy have the brush.” She turned,
walked out of the bathroom, and returned with it.

Importance — This incident marks another variation introduced to
Peggy’s basic imperative sentence, i.e. “‘recipient’ have that”, by
specifying the object’s name. Gretchen may have earlier tried forms
such as “have cookie?” — but it is not clear precisely how Peggy
interpreted such an expression.


3V0498.01 In Boston for MIT graduation (6/04-5/79)

This was our trip to Boston for Bob’s graduation from MIT. We all got
up at 5 am, to drive to Boston by 9. Peggy was left at the child care
service in McCormack Hall while the rest of us went to Killian Court.
She behaved very well, although she did appear astonished by all the
other children there who were crying and carrying on. I gave her a
couple of little toys to play with and left her. Three and a half hours
later, when I returned, she was walking around the cribs which blocked
the doorway. When she saw me entering, she gave me a big welcoming
smile. Her “sitter” told me she had been very good and had not cried
at all. We returned to Logo and after a short while had Robby and
Miriam’s graduation, followed by an ice cream cake, which Peggy
shared. Then the children and I drove over the Brookline, for Miriam
to play with Dara, for me to register at the motel, and for Robby to play
with Danny Moore.

Peggy and I returned to Logo until we all left to collect the other
children and pick up José and Laurie for dinner. By now it was 7 pm
and Peggy was both hungry and tired, having had only a bit of cereal,
some ice cream, and water all day; and no nap (probably). Laurie had a
banana which Peggy devoured while he got his car, as ours would not
hold all of us comfortably. We went to Demos where Peggy got to sit
on a rolling high chair. During dinner she drank two containers of milk
(using a small restaurant glass) and had some rice, some flat bread,
and perhaps some lamb. towards the end, she began to get restless,
and Miriam walked her around (both on foot and in the high chair).
when we drove back to the motel, Miriam had to hold Peggy in the
front seat because Robby had fallen asleep in the back. once there, I
changed Peggy, put her in a nightgown and tried to persuade her to lie
down in the port-a-crib and go to sleep. Despite the fact that she had
been nodding and dozing in the car, Peggy would not settle down; she
stood in the crib and cried loudly. bob and I left to have a beer with
José and Laurie; when we returned an hour later, all was quiet. Miriam
said she had changed Peggy again and after that Peggy was willing to lie
down. The next morning, the children waked up around seven. Bob
and Miriam went to MIT by trolley, while Robby and I packed up and
checked out. We went up Beacon street to the barber’s. First, Robby
had his hair cut (while I went to the Star and got milk and cookies).
Then Peggy had her hair cut, sitting in my lap. she wriggled and
screamed the whole time (this had never happened to her before,
getting a haircut), so the result was a trifle uneven. she absolutely
would not permit the barber to use the trimmers on her neck. While I
had my hair cut. she stood nearby and cried. We then went to Logo,
and hung around until mid-afternoon. By lunchtime Peggy was
obviously tired, so we took the sleeping bag out of the car. She could
not be persuaded simply to lie down on it, so I sat down and held her,
first in my lap, then gradually as she shifted around to get comfortable,
onto the sleeping bag with her head pillowed on my knee. She was so
tired that she could not keep sucking her fingers. as her eyes closed,
her hand slid out of her mouth and I could see her tongue still making
sucking motions, like a very young baby. After a couple of false starts
she fell asleep and I was able to get myself out from under her head
and leave her to nap for an hour or so. she was awake again before we
left Logo around 3:30. During the ride home she played with some
empty soda cans, and also developed a game with me. She would push
on my back, forcing me to bend forward; then she would reach under
my arm and pull me back upright again, over and over. (This is a
variant of a game she plays on the bed, sitting in my lap facing me and
pushing me down to a reclining position. I sit up and she pushes me
back down.) Some time during the day, Peggy wanted me to name
things for her. She went systematically and repeatedly over my face,
pointing at my features and inquiring “that” — we did mouth, nose,
eyes, glasses, cheek, chin, and ears. Gretchen.


3V0502.01 Trash can: comprehension and generalization

Peggy comes to pick at the contents of my writing table whenever she is
in my bedroom. (Just now she took a box of chalk and complained
vociferously when I retrieved it from her). Today she found the cap of
a beer bottle and picked it up. I asked “Will you put that in the trash
can ?” Peggy immediately turned towards it, toddled over, and dropped
the cap in the can.

Questions: 1. how would Peggy have acted if I asked her “Will you put
that in the blitz krieg ?” or made some other equally inappropriate
request ? I should try this.

2. did anyone teach her the name “trash can” ? Gretchen informs me
that yesterday she asked Peggy to put something in the “trash can”
(down in the kitchen, one which is quite different in appearance), and
when Peggy looked blank, she touched it and continued, “This is the
trash can.”

Importance: a surprising response on Peggy’s part is here traced back
to a specific incident in which the name of an object was given and
apparently well-attached to a functionally defined object.


3V0502.02 Pure verbal interpretation overwhelms context: 6/08/79

Pick up Foxy
The older children have a bad habit (likely picked up from me) of
dropping wherever they are whatever they have no further need of.
when I try to get them to pick up after themselves they complain “I
didn’t have that” or “Shouldn’t (the other child) pick up that (other
thing) also ?” With considerable justice, they complain that Peggy
makes an absolute mess of the house, dropping her things, theirs, or
whatever comes to have wherever she is when something else
dominates her mind. Thus, when I asked Robby today to pick up some
clothes he had dropped in the kitchen I turned to Peggy who had
dropped the toy red fox near her high chair and said “Peggy, will you
pick up Foxy ?” pointing at the toy on the floor. Standing near me and
the toy (to which I pointed and which was in her sight), she looked up
at me then crossed the kitchen to the dog’s bed, grabbed Scurry by the
ear, and tugged at it three times.

Importance: Peggy’s reaction to this instruction was entirely
unexpected. No one has ever referred to Scurry as Foxy. Even though
Foxy (the name we all use for her toy red fox) was in plain view and
further specified by pointing, Peggy apparently considered Scurry the
intended referent of the name I spoke. Clearly, Scurry is the
outstanding exemplar of what a fox is — for Peggy has identified the
Scotty as a fox numerous times on videotape.

It would be a mistake to erect a theory of label fixation on the basis of
a single example, but I incline to see this “error” of interpretation as
similar to the hypothetical process I have otherwheres called the
“nucleation of microworld clusters.” Here, in place of an archetype,
the primary example of Peggy’s class of ‘Fox’, i.e. Scurry, is interpreted
as the referent for a term which has never been applied to her. If no
more, this incident is evidence and a lucid example of how thought
intervenes even in so “simple” a process as the association of names
with referents.


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.


3V0503.01 [Who have that?] role of pragmatics; example for analysis (6/9/79)

Miriam, sitting at the table, had left a pair of shoes across the kitchen
despite my asking her to pick them up. When I called them to her
attention and we talked about the shoes, Peggy picked up one and
carried it over to Miriam. Miriam tried to get Peggy to bring her the
second shoe as well, speaking in this vien. “Peggy, get me the shoe. The
shoe. Miriam have that.” Peggy went back for the other shoe but
brought it to me at the table. I said, “No, Peg. Not Daddy. Who have
that? Miriam have that.”

Peggy looked at me, walked away carrying the shoe, then dropped it
and turned. She walked determinedly back to me, poked my arm with
her finger, and said, “Dad.”

Importance — Peggy clearly can label me as “Dad.” Her productive use
witnesses it as much as her pointing to her own head when
asked “Where’s Peggy?”

More importantly, this incident witnesses the not-always evident role of
pragmatics. That is, Peggy took Miriam’s shoe (because they were hers?
Because of the size?) Then, she gave me a turn to receive a shoe and
was confused when I verbally redirected her.


3V0508.01 Over the head: what it means to Peggy (6/14/79)

Putting cloth objects especially (but others as well) over the top of the
head and down about her neck has become one of Peggy’s favorite
activities. This leapt to prominence in our eyes with her wandering
from the living room into the kitchen with a pair of Robby’s jockey
shorts around her neck, her head through the waist and one leg. She
was delighted with her success and kept repeating the action — just
with the shorts and in subsequent days with any piece of clothing she
could pull from her dresser drawers. Latterly (7/1 say) Peggy has
concentrated on putting a small found necklace of Miriam’s over her
head with the same satisfaction.

Relevance — this activity appears to capture what ‘over the head’ means
to Peggy — i.e. to her, clothing is that class of cloth things that goes
over the head. She has been dressed by others so long, that this new
success must be to her an extension of her control of her world that is
significant from her point of view of what life is about (imagine trying
to imagine the existential philosophy of an infant!)


3V0509.01 Writing on a paper bag (6/15/79)

Peggy was running around our bedroom with an open pen. I told her
not to write on her clothes and suggested that she could draw on a
paper bag that lay on the floor. Pointing to it, I said [something like]
“You can use that paper bag there to draw on.” Peggy looked at me,
then at the bag, and went over, picked it up, and handed it to me (just
as though that was what I had said to do). I took the bag, pretended to
write on it, and placed it on the floor in front of her. Peggy
immediately bent down and tried to scribble on the bag. (She does not
realize that a ball point pen requires pressure and will not leave much
of a mark otherwise).

General observations — over the past week or two Peggy has been
reaching out for the banister as she is carried upstairs. If she is close
enough, she will hold on and run her hand along the rail.
She has also begun to smile and clap when praised and/or pleased.



3V0513.01 Sentence completion (6/19/79)

“Peggy, do you want to get…?” This question I addressed to her while
she stood in her high chair. Peggy responded /dau/. No big surprise.
The point is raising this question to salience. What minor changes of
our speech patterns can we introduce that will permit us to better
probe Peggy’s speech and knowledge competence.


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]


3V0516.02 Concrete pipe: putting in (6/22/79)

Peggy often rides with Miriam and me down to the Cox school to pick
up Robby after soccer practice. Beside the soccer field is a play area
for the older children.. One object is an 8 foot long concrete pipe of 4
foot diameter. Peggy was obvious(ly) fascinated by it when Miriam
went through it. She toddled over, leaned in then backed up to me for
comfort. From the other end, Miriam urged her by calling. Peggy did
go through with some unease and was delighted at having finished the
challenge — delighted but not merely relieved. Robby joined us and
calling her to keep her attention on him, he first went around the
outside then came back to her through the inside of the pipe.
Relevance: this records an experience of Peggy’s wherein she goes
through personally a cylinder in the way of various objects she inserts
in the cardboard tubes in our videotape experiments. This sort of
experience could serve as an exemplar permitting connection of
putting-into and going-through kinds of experiences.


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.


3V0518.01 Naming with pointing [car] (6/24/79)

Driving in her car seat, Peggy named a car [ka] with pointing
simultaneously. Gretchen.


3V0520.01 Naming with pointing at pictures; alternating car, dog (6/26/79)

Miriam and Peggy were looking at a book by Richard Scary. Peggy
pointed to a picture of a dog driving a car. Miriam said, “Car.” Peggy
pointed again. “Car.” And again. “Car.” About the fourth or fifth
repetition, Miriam was bored and tired of repetition. “Car. Don’t you
know that? How many times do I have to tell you?” I took over. “Car.”
“Car.” “Car…” Then Peggy introduced a variation. “Dog.” “Car.” “Dog.”
“Car.” She pointed first to one, then the other, for what seemed to be
at least a dozen repetitions. I do not know why she does this; she knew
perfectly well what they were. Perhaps it was the sense of power, being
able to invoke a response; perhaps it was curiosity, to see if the answer
would change.


3V0522.01 Tirades disappeared; “comments” instead (6/28/79)

What happened to the ‘tirades’ and recording of them? The attempt at
recording failed because they dropped out of Peggy’s behavior —
rather, they took a reduced form which is more appropriate to call
“comments.” The characteristic of a comment is its length — typically
two or three sentences (as judged [by] patterns of prosody) — and its
relation to pragmatics. Most commonly, Peggy seems to be talking
about what she is doing (as in the “discussion” of bean bags noted
subsequently). It is possible that Peggy tries to talk about things she
wants, but I have no clear examples for reference (we should look for
this sort of occasion; its non-occurrence would also be interesting).
We have been able to record a few samples of “comments” on audio
tape. There are also significant examples of this in videotapes P74 and


3V0524.01 Pragmatics and names [bring me the snuggle gruggle] (6/30/79)

Peggy was playing with a large ball. At one point, when it was not in her
possession and she had been distracted by something, I said to her,
“Peggy, bring me the snuggle gruggle.” Without hesitation she went
over to the ball, picked it up, and brought it to me. Gretchen.


3V0527.01 Spontaneous naming [shoe] (2 different examples) (7/3/79)

This morning before breakfast Peggy was playing in our room. She
picked up one of Bob’s moccasins and said, “Shoe.” Shortly thereafter
she picked up one of his deck shoes and repeated, “Shoe.” Gretchen.


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.”]


3V0531.01 COUNTING: beginning of notes. Cookies, hands, and counting (7/7/79)

During interviews at IBM, Moshe Zloof raised the question of whether
or not, in effect, counting is innate. I told him the question was a big
one about which I felt no one could speak with authority but that I had
very strong prejudices. As an example of the kind of experience from
which I felt the knowledge of counting might develop, I cited Peggy’s
reception of cookies. After convincing us to get her a cookie, Peggy
would sometimes open her mouth to receive it directly. More
commonly, she would hold out her hand (usually the right), take the
cookie, and put it in her mouth. Some time ago (we neither can recall
just when), in a situation where a whole stack of cookies was available,
Peggy requested and received a cookie for each hand. In some
circumstances, Peggy ended up transferring two cookies to one hand
and eating a cookie sandwich. The final step, which I witnessed but
can’t date, was Peggy requesting a cookie for each hand, then
transferring the right cookie to the left hand and requesting another.
In this little series of incidents, we see one-to-one correspondence and
a procedure for “getting one more”. These two are enough to base a
counting system on.

Today, Peggy began picking up all the various things on my chair side
table. I gave her three small bean bags to play with. The game of
choice became putting them in my palm and removing them. The
material scraps from which the bean bags were made are all colorful
and quite different from one another. She removed them several ways:
by ones, two first, and two last. When my hand was empty, she twice
scratched my palm after removing the third bag.

Peggy was much engaged with this bean bag play, talking all the while
(the talk is recorded on audio tape #3). I intend to play with these
little bags during our next experiment on videotape. Let’s see if we can
catch the development of Peggy’s knowledge of counting.


3V0534.01 Words and situations: trash can-words, like things seen can be unconsidered (cf. notes # for problem solving analogy) (7/10/79)

A little exploration following Chomsky’s advice that you can probe
language understanding (only) by examining the interpretation of
nonsense — Gretchen’s “snuggle gruggle” shows how easy it is to over
interpret language understanding on the bases of action. This is a
second example (cf. 6/8/79 Trash can).

Peggy picked over the contents of my writing table again today and
found a tulip-shaped tiny metal bell — the end of a light cord. I
directed her: “Peggy, put this in the trash can” as I returned it to her.
She toddled across the room and did so and returned to my table.
Selecting another piece of disposable stuff, I gave it her with “Put this
in the birdbath.” Peggy complied, but carried it to the trash can. In the
third variation, I gave her a roll of scotch tape in a dispenser and said,
“Put this in the icebox.” She put the tape in the trash can. Although we
would not throw it away, Peggy was willing.

Clearly the nouns of destination [?] in these sentences are not
determining what Peggy does. Does she know “birdbath”? No. Does she
know “icebox”? Quite likely — we more often name the refrigerator by
that label instead of “icebox,” but she has doubtless heard me use the
word when trying to raid it. That is, the refrigerator looms large in
Peggy’s life. She tries to get food out of it whenever it is opened and
often is permitted to do so.


3V0535.01 Ant versus bug: preferred name for a shared referent (7/11/79)

Today at the beach I surprised Peggy by a sudden leap — I had caught
sight of a plant near my foot and thought at first it was a wasp. I
explained that I thought I had seen a bug, but it was only a plant.
Peggy, who was standing by my knee (I was sitting) began searching the
ground between my legs, repeating “Bug.” She did not appear to attend
my explanations that there was no bug. After a short bit, Peggy said
with satisfaction, “Bug” and began to stamp on the ground. I saw
motion, and identified it as a “little ant.” Peggy retorted, “li’l bug.” [We
have had much trouble with ants in the house over the past 6 weeks or
so, and those that are found wandering about on the floor are
promptly stepped on.] Gretchen.


3V0536.01 More words and situations: “Give this to dada” vs.
“dada have that”; language role in microworld selection: role genetically prior
to terminal specification though it recedes to discourse level feature
(CENTRAL IDEA) (7/12/79)

Miriam sat across the dining room table unable to bring me something I
wanted (a magazine, perhaps). She directed Peggy, “Give this to Dada”,
then pointing directly at me when Peggy looked at her
uncomprehendingly she repeated, “Give this to Dada.” Peggy did not
respond. I caught her eye and whispered she should say, “Daddy have
that.” Miriam said, “Dada have that” without any gesture. Peggy
brightened, circumnavigated the table, and brought me the object.

To be doubly sure of Peggy’s non-understanding, I tried repeating the
incident: “Peggy, give this to Miriam.” I expected Peggy not to do so —
after which I intended to say “Miriam have that” with her consequent
execution — but Peggy carried the object back to Miriam right away.
Importance — the most striking element in the difference of Peggy’s two
responses to the “Give this etc.” directions is her successful
interpretation of my intention in the second case. How did that

In the first case, Miriam gave Peggy an incomprehensible order which
meant that Peggy should perform a familiar action (carry and give) on
an object in her grasp. When expressed as a well know formula, Peggy
executed the action. In the second case, when a similar order (only the
indirect object changed) [was given] Peggy executed that action on that
object in response without translation into a well known formula. The
two changes were recipient AND the immediate context or situation of
the utterance.

Can we say that language’s function as evidenced here is at the level of
microworld or frame selection? Yes. It IS reasonable then to consider
this function as genetically prior to terminal specification, even if it
may gradually recede in prominence to what linguists call “discourse
level features.”


3V0538.01 [read the story]: real importance of communication; (7/14/79)

The little golden book version of Madeline was brought out today.
Miriam attempted to read it to Peggy. Peggy’s attention soon wandered
[she perhaps did not feel great either, being sick with roseola; the
fever had gone and the rash was come] and she fussed at me, but
Miriam continued to read. Later in the day, Peggy and I were alone in
the living room. I was seated in the recliner. Peggy came to me, waving
Madeline and babbling. I began to listen, and heard her say, “read the
story”! Before Miriam had read aloud earlier, she had asked Peggy
slowly and clearly something like “Do you want to read a story? Shall I
read this story to you?” Gretchen.


3V0541.01 Scars: scrape on floor analogous to scar on her own body.
Comprehension evidence for “what’s that?” Explaining. (7/17/79)

Raising beams for the living room ceiling led to a lot of furniture
moving. At one point, a pebble caught under the couch, scraped across
the floor and left a wide (1/4″) and long (14″) scar in the oak flooring.
When the work was finished and the area cleaned, Peggy came in to
play. Eventually the scar caught her interest. She pointed to it (for her
own edification only; there were no [THAT] requests for names or
whatever) and made her noises of interest (/au/u/u/?)

While she was pointing, I asked, “What’s that, Peggy?” She pointed. I
asked again, “What’s that?” Peggy pointed again and mumbled some
uninterpretable utterance. Once more I asked and she responded by
grasping her foot and pointing to the scar on her toe where I recently
removed a splinter.


3V0541.02 Comprehension evidence for “what’s that?” — Infant explanation

Importance — I consider this exceptionally clear evidence that Peggy
understands the meaning of the question “What’s that?” I judge it
important because it is a general request for information sufficient to
meet another’s criterion. Her first attempted answer, pointing to the
scar, is a sort of identity assertion. The second answer, when I was not
satisfied, coupled a mumbled utterance (does not this production give
us some sense of her interpretation, i.e. [if]? you can explain a thing by
mumbling ‘anything at all’ we might infer she attributes no specific
meaning to the words which she receives in answer to her “that”
requests) with specification by pointing. The third explanation, by
analogy to her scar, witnesses that she understands I want her to make
sense of what she is concerned with for my benefit.

Perhaps this illuminates her interest in the first place. If she explains
what she sees through what she has experienced personally, the trauma
of my removing her splinter sensitized her to phenomena that are
interpretable by that experience. What are the “features” implicated?
Probably only that the mark is long and thin and a gouge in the surface
(the latter likely more important).


3V0541.03 [right!] Comprehension issue (7/17/79)

Peggy and I had a fight today. I was charging about the house, all
concerned with th beam-raising project or its clean up. Peggy was
toddling about with the yardstick, probably looking to chase Scurry
with it.

We collided. The yardstick and my left shin. Peggy was knocked [over].
I was pained and angry and threw the yardstick out of the way. Peggy
cried because she was frightened as well as for her fall, and Gretchen
picked her up to comfort her.

Peggy was frightened of me! I asked her, “You think your Daddy is mad
at you, don’t you?” Peggy said “Right” and dropped her head onto
Gretchen’s shoulder.

Importance — How much understanding need we ascribe to Peggy to
infer that this was a conversational transaction? How different is this
in her understanding from a more direct question, “Am I mad at you?”


3V0541.04 Vocabulary at 18 months

Spoken spontaneously:
mama cah [car] ve [wet] hot dada cae [cat] su [shoe]
dau [down] dat [that] vava’ [dog] b/\ [bug] how zat
Repeated after someone:
da [doll] scissors cookie tree cold water
Understood (not exhaustive) and/or recognized:
Peggy (of course), change diaper, up, yogurt, have Peggy, bread, out,
egg, go for a walk, put it back, go for a ride, hurray for Peggy, (Daddy)
have that, put the cap on the pen, do you want some … , would you like
some … Gretchen.


3V0544.01 “reading” Scientific American: 07/20/79

Since Miriam offered to “read the book” (Madeline), Peggy has pestered
us to read to her. The selection is surprising. Today she came
careening through the gallery pass-way waving a Scientific American
and saying distinctly (to herself — she was nowhere near me yet)

We did, after lunch, “read” that magazine. We would turn pages and
make noises of amazement at the pictures. Peggy returned repeatedly
to pictures of things she could recognize, e.g. cars. The objects
dominating advertisements were cars, cameras, and alcohol (whiskey,
gin, etc.). They got most of her attention, but she also examined
diagrams and drawings supporting text articles.

I got tired of this exercise and directed our attention to Miriam’s
illustrated tales of Peter Rabbit. Peggy was interested in the drawings,
but not so clearly so much as in the photographs of recognizable
objects, such as the cars.


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.


Peggy Study, Panel P066

Themes: Toys & Blocks, Sibling and Parent Interactions, Standard Objects
Source: (Lawler); date: 4/30/1979

Title: ?
Text commentary: These clips show Peggy’s interest driving activity; ZPD & self-construction

P66A Doll, ToyDog, Blocks, 24mb

P66B Blocks and Stool, 9.6mb

P66C w/Sib & GPL, 22mb

P66D1 Reading w/GPL, 21mb

P66D2 Reading w/GPL, 29mb

P66E1 Standard Objects, 27mb

P66E2 Objects, MRL too 13mb