Monday, January 19, 2015

When a nod is nod enough: Coconut Cheeseburger

Clip art:
On the way to the TESOL convention in 1987, at the Greenville-Spartenburg airport, there also was a “mass” of tanned, wacky (hungover?) college students on their way back from spring break in Florida. Next to where I was sitting there was a group of about a dozen who were laughing uproariously.

The story went that one of the young women had intended to order a coke and a cheeseburger at a restaurant, but was served, instead, a Coconut Cheeseburger. As the recipient of the exotic sandwich continued to deny having ordered it, another insisted that he had, in fact, observed her do just that.

What was fascinating was that both were using energetic upper torso nods with simultaneous "thigh slaps"—which created and emphasized either one or two tone/rhythm groups: (“I’d like a Coke / and a Cheeseburger.”) or what he said she said: (“I’d like a Coconut Cheeseburger.”)

It was easy to “see" how in a noisy restaurant--where there was, apparently, a coconut cheeseburger on the menu--that the waiter could get it wrong. Had she used one obvious upper torso nod or two? (Nod, if you guessed right, that the protagonist was a male, English major, almost certainly a significant other of the recipient of the burger--or trying desperately to become one!)

It would take me another two decades to figure out how to make that principle work systematically-- in haptic pronunciation teaching..


Bill Acton said...

Even found a picture of one:

Angelina Van Dyke said...


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