Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Last week I heard someone laugh, and I thought it was such a good laugh that I would use it from then on. It was sort of halfway between a cackle and a guffaw - definitely a mocking, cruel, delighted burst of air.

This reminded me of another concious adoption of a cultural trait that I read about recently from Papua New Guinea: McElhanon describes a community meeting in which one group decided to change their word for ‘no’ in order to distinguish themselves from another group (Kulick, 1992). Although there are many examples of people changing to conform, it's not often you find such an organised move away from the norm. I couldn't find out how successful the change was, though.

Surprisingly, my own adoption seems to have worked, and I now involuntarily use my new laugh quite a lot. Laughter, it seems, is infectious.

1 comment:

  1. There is an early recording - just about extant - of the blogger, when a baby, laughing at very considerable length. Nature or nurture, I wonder?