The southern French child at play: Aspects of his traditional oral lore.

  • Ruth M. Brinton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This study concerns an investigation of the oral traditions of the contemporary child in southern France, and sets out to disprove the widely held belief that such traditions have disappeared as a result of the levelling influence of the media upon today's children. Attention is focused upon the child of eight to ten years of age, investigating that part of his world normally ignored, even denied, by adults: that is, those games and rhymes passed down by word of mouth from the older child to the younger, generation after generation. Unlike any previous detailed study of juvenile lore in twentieth-century France, this thesis considers the entire spectrum of traditional play in the context of the 'child-to-child complex'. The study has involved extensive fieldwork in the Midi, recording and transcribing the language and lore of children at play. This practical work has been backed up by detailed historical research into the documentation of child lore in France from the thirteenth century until the present day. Account has been taken both of literary references to children's games, which provide important data for historical and comparative analysis, and of the various manuals and collections of games which exist in France. From the vast range of materials amassed, common characteristics and clear divisions between the various play activities recorded have been identified, enabling a detailed classification to be made of the data collected. Such a classification has not hitherto been achieved in France. Through an investigation of the closed and mysterious world of the playground, a world where children gather among themselves, this study aims to present an autonomous society, regulated by the jurisdictions of its own code, where rhymes and games are communicated from one child to the next, away from the restrictive eye of the adult.
Date of Award1985
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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