In 1967 Mr. Benny Blount went to Nyanza Province in Kenya in East Central Africa to make a study of the development of language in childhood. The language spoken by about one million people in Nyanza Province is Luo. His study was comparable with studies already made in the United States and Britain and in progress in several other places. Mr. Blount took with him a copy of the Field Manual written to guide such studies by Daniel Slobin and his associates at the University of California at Berkeley. While this Manual describes some experimental methods for investigating child speech the central procedure is the collection, on a regular schedule, of large samples of the spontaneous speech of the children being studied. When my associates and I originated this kind of study with three American children in 1962 we found that we could obtain from any of our children several hundred utterances in about half an hour's time. Among the Luo, Mr. Blount found things rather more difficult. In his first fifty-four visits, of half an hour or longer, he obtained a total of only two hundred sentences. The problem was primarily one of Luo etiquette which requires that small children be silent when adults come to visit, and the small children Mr. Blount visited could not throw off their etiquette even though their parents entreated them to speak for the visiting "European," as Mr. Blount was called.
In the end, happily, Mr. Blount was able to learn quite a bit about the speech of Luo children, and what he learned, once he got past the difference of etiquette, was mostly familiar. Familiar to him and to other students of child speech, from