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Hand and Mouth Games in three provinces of Cambodia An Ethnographic Focus on Sociability between Children by Steven Prigent

This paper is an in-depth study of children’s hand-clapping singing games in three villages of rice growers in Cambodia. In the course of these games, children chant assonant verses while clapping their hands. They play with words and perform special choreographies. When examining one of these games, we are very tempted to study the verbal and gestural scripts and ask what changes in the rhythm that signals the playing out of the game? Furthermore, what do the children talk about during these games and what are the rules?

Each time, we can observe two high points: a period of rhythmic chanting (with hand percussion) and a duel of hands. The chanting can precede the duel or conversely according to the type of game. In all cases, the game finishes with an emotional release: the children playfully hit one another, they pinch and tickle, and they poke one another while laughing.

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