TEASING AND TAUNTING
Five major categories are discussed and illustrated in this section: Verbal Tricks and Catching Out; Teases, Threats, Ruses, and Boasts; Taunts and Epithets; Responses, Retorts, and Repartee; and Play on (Other) Children’s Names. While many examples of these may be improvised for a specific occasion and situation, most rely on a repertoire of words, phrases, and routines which have been used by children many times before. Nigel Kelsey believes that there was much less taunting of children at the time of his survey than was the case in his schooldays. Most examples of taunts about physical differences were good-natured nicknames or “one-off” insults. The examples which follow are presented under a series of subheadings, according to the physical features and other traits which are being commented on, mostly humorously, by the children. The apposite response to an overused word, a breach of manners, or a taunt, may have the effect of “putting down” the recipient, but quick thinking often generates a witty response which effectively counters the taunt.