The Devil's Dictionary and repetition

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Thu Jan 20 18:59:20 UTC 2000

A more academic study is a classic piece by Alan Dundes, "The Number Three
in American Culture" (tracing it to European and Christian roots, of
course, as others have pointed out).  I recall another article comparing
number mystiques cross-culturally but can't find the book just now (it's in
_Every Man His Way_, a collection of cultural anthropology studies, edited
by Dundes).  Peter Farb may have something in _Word Play_ too.

But these cultural systems have nothing to do with learning theory.  Larry
Horn is closer to the mark, I think; I have data from an early study by Dan
Slobin on elicited imitation in young children, in which the child, upon
hearing the prompt "I have a ball ball," interprets the repetition as
meaning modifier + head noun and repeats it exactly (with stress on the
"adjective"), whereas she doesn't fall for this trick when hearing "I want
to go go go"--she simply says "I want to go."  Since she's just over 2
years old at the time, her semantic interpretation of repetition appears to
depend on sentence structure, as Larry says.

At 07:43 AM 1/20/00 -0500, you wrote:
>On Thursday, January 20, 2000, Lynne Murphy <lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK> wrote:
> >i have some vague memory that 3 is a magic number in memory studies, but
> >apparently this wasn't repeated to me 3 times, because i can't
> >remember for
> >sure...
>You might also be remembering a) School House Rock' s "Three is a Magic
>(sample here
>) or b) De La Soul's "The Magic Number"from the album "3 Feet High and Rising"
>(sample at
> ).

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