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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.


Peggy Study, Panel P071

Themes: Talking, Books, Objects
Source: (Lawler); date: 6/6/1979

Text commentary: This panel begins with some language performance tests and offering Peggy choices about what to do; despite segments on books and objects, the common theme of interest is pre-verbal communication in social interactions .

P71A1 Language tests, 24mb

P71A2 Talk in the Lap, 20mb

P71B1 Choices: w/GPL, 20mb

P71B2 Reading, with GPL, 8mb

P71B3 Blocks & … with GPL, 17mb

P71B4 More Books with GPL, 21mb

P71C1 Standard Objects, on Bob, 23mb

P71C2 Standard Objects, with Bob, 11mb