The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren

Front Cover
New York Review of Books, 2001 - Social Science - 417 pages
First published in 1959, Iona and Peter Opie's The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren is a pathbreaking work of scholarship that is also a splendid and enduring work of literature. Going outside the nursery, with its assortment of parent-approved entertainments, to observe and investigate the day-to-day creative intelligence and activities of children, the Opies bring to life the rites and rhymes, jokes and jeers, laws, games, and secret spells of what has been called "the greatest of savage tribes, and the only one which shows no signs of dying out."
 

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This is a brilliant piece of reference for anyone who want to know about children's culture, from skipping rhymes to jeers for unpopular children, special pranks, practices that have died out and many things that we vaguely recall from a childhood like the "I went to the Animal Fair" rhyme, for one. 

Contents

INTRODUCTORY
1
JUST FOR FUN
17
WIT AND REPARTEE
41
GUILE
57
RIDDLES
73
PARODY AND IMPROPRIETY
87
TOPICAL RHYMES
98
CODE OF ORAL LEGISLATION
121
Juvenile Attitude to Folklore Ambulances Omens on the Way
228
New Years Day St Valentines Day Shrove Tuesday
271
OCCASIONAL CUSTOMS
293
SOME CURIOSITIES
306
FRIENDSHIP AND FORTUNE
323
PARTISANSHIP
343
THE CHILD AND AUTHORITY
361
PRANKS
377

Affirmation Testing Truthfulness Bets Bargain Making Swopping
141
NICKNAMES AND EPITHETS
154
Characteristics of Schoolchild Language Their Own Name Other
172
Spoilsports Sourpusses Spitfires Cleverdicks Dafties Fools
203
Door Knocking and Bell Ringing Prevalence of Pranks Pedestrian
391
GENERAL INDEX
409
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Page iv - ... culture' is used here deliberately) which is as unnoticed by the sophisticated world, and quite as little affected by it, as is the culture of some dwindling aboriginal tribe living out its helpless existence in the hinterland of a native reserve.

About the author (2001)

Iona (1923-2017) and Peter Opie (1918-1982) began their research together in 1944. Fifteen years later, they published The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren and took their places as, to quote The Guardian, "the supreme archivists of the folklore movement." Since that time, they have jointly published The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, The Classic Fairy Tales, and Children's Game in Street and Playground. After Peter Opie's death in 1982, Iona Opie carried on with their work under his name as well as her own.

Marina Warner's studies of religion, mythology, and fairy tales include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, From the Beast to the Blonde, and Stranger Magic (National Book Critics Circle Award for Literary Criticism; Truman Capote Prize). A Fellow of the British Academy, Warner is also a professor of English and creative writing at Birkbeck College, London. In 2015 she was given the Holberg Prize.

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