The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren

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New York Review of Books, Aug 31, 2000 - Social Science - 417 pages
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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.

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About the author (2000)

About the Author: Iona Opie edited and wrote many books with her late husband Peter Opie, including The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, and The Classic Fairy Tales.

Iona Opie is a leading authority on children's lore and literature. With her late husband, Peter Opie, she wrote the pioneering study of children's culture, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. The Opies have also edited The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, and The Classic Fairy Tales.

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