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Archive with last of tag-string W163


3V1141.01 French: [I can speak French – “Cat twank” ] (3/8/81)

I asked Miriam how her French is coming. She replied, ‘Comment allez-vous ?’ ‘Tres bien, merci, et vous ?’ I answered. Miriam could not continue. We mentioned ‘French’ several times during the conversation. Peggy, who had been sitting there piped up, ‘I can speak French…(we all looked at her)… cat twank.’

This phrase, which Peggy classed as French and reproduced, is ‘Four, five’, ie. ‘quatre, cinq.’ She heard this part of the number name list in the content of the joke, often repeated, about three cats, ‘un, deux, et trois’ who went for a walk on the icy lake with the result that ‘un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq.’

A day or so later, Peggy gave a second example of French, and I quote ‘Woof, boogle, jig… that’s how I spell French.’ The phrase comes from the song in the W. C. Fields movie ‘Million Dollar Legs’, occasionally sung in our house. Notable here is the classification of the nonsense jingle as ‘French’, also is Peggy’s application of the word ‘spell.’ this brings up the enormous difficulty in understanding what she says because we don’t know what SHE might mean by what she says… not unless we have a rich historical corpus of lucid examples of meaning.


3V1145.01 What does spelling mean to Peggy ? [“How do you spell ‘boat’ ?”] (3/12/81)

‘How do you spell ‘boat’ ?’ Peggy asked me. I responded to her question as if she meant what any adult would mean. After a pause, smiling, Peggy said (roughly), ‘That’s what I thought…. I can do it myself.’ (She can not, obviously.)

What did Peggy mean by her question ? I don’t know any way of telling for certain… but we can make these speculations. ‘Spelling’ a word means (vaguely) producing some string of sounds ‘associated’ with the word but bearing no semantic relation to it. (Thus ‘woof boogle jig’ spells French as ‘b’, ‘o’, ‘a’, ‘t’ spells ‘boat.’)

Relevance : such is not a bad signification for ‘spell’ precisely because it represents the arbitrary relation between the meaningful word and non-meaningful sequence of (as yet unknown) letters-name sounds.


3V1146.01 Dead flowers: [They been shot.] (3/13/81)

A warm day, the family outside working in the garden. Peggy picked up some dried flowers, brought them inside and asked me to put them in a vase. I refused to do so, avoiding a confrontation by evading her request. Outside later, Peggy again mentioned her flowers. I told her I had not put them in the vase because they were dead. Peggy remarked, ‘ ’cause they’ve been shot.’ I asked for confirmation ‘ ‘Cause they’ve been shot ?’ Peggy was certain.. ‘Yes.’ ‘Who shot them ? ‘ I asked. ‘They been shot,’ she repeated. ‘Who shot them ?’ She changed her mind, ‘They’re not dead.’

‘Dead’ and ‘Shot’ are intimately connected in meaning for Peggy, but how ? Does ‘Shot’ mean ‘having caused to be dead’ ? Or does ‘dead’ mean ‘the consequences of being shot’ ? The prominence of these words for Peggy comes from her play with Robby who often plays noisy and active shooting games. Peggy runs around during the game : Robby and Miriam shoot her and each other. They hide and Peggy shoots them. The cooperative elements of the game requires the victim’s excessively histrionic death (i.e. collapse and lying still). in turn, the perpetrator then shoots the victim again, saying ‘bang. I shot you back to life.’ Peggy’s meanings for those words come out of this idiosyncratic game. She uses them as currency in trading conversation, but there can be no way those words have an immediate and simple relation to the ideas adults usually associate with them.


3V1146.02 Dancing and whooping: a new script for animal play (3/13/81)

Last night after supper, Peggy brought her collection of toys. Our new Chieftains record was playing, so when Peggy (as BearHug) asked me (as Pink Panther) ‘What do you want to do now ?’ I answered, ‘I want to dance’ and began bouncing the panther from one foot to another — and letting out a whoop at a suitable period in the piece (probably ‘Merrily Kiss the Quaker’).

This evening, Peggy added a new game script to her repertoire of games for playing with toy animals… dancing with occasional random whooping.


3V114603 Dancing: we need to document her interest and activity (3/13/81)

This is an activity of Peggy’s needing extensive observation and comment. It is obviously important to her, something she enjoys, and something she does a lot.


3V1147.01 Letter H: “Is this for jump ?” (3/14/81)

‘Is this for ‘jump’ ?’ Peggy asked, bringing me the letter ‘H’ from her set on the floor. I explained that ‘H’ was for ‘Happy.’ (maybe I should have said for ‘Hop’ — but would she recognize that as different from ‘jump’ ?) The letter names H and J were introduced casually during VT session 163.