Wednesday, December 11, 2013

From yan to jigget

I recently posted a clip of Jake Thackray's song “Sophie”. I am told by an American friend that it was blocked in the States, goodness knows why, as it's naughty but not obscene, unless you have a mind like a sewer.
Anyway, I am in love with another of Jake's songs, the one called “Mad Molly Metcalfe”, a poor girl who looked after sheep on a Yorkshire moorland above Swayledale, and who was found frozen to death. She was only in her early twenties. I won't post it here, as you can easily track it down on You Tube. One thing that bowled me over was the counting system she used for counting her sheep. You count to twenty, then transfer a pebble from your hand to a pocket, then start again to the next twenty, transfer a second pebble, and so on. Here are the numbers one to twenty:
yan tan tether mether pip
azer sezar akker conter dick
yanadick tanadick tetheradick metheradick bumfit
yanabum tanabum tetherabum metherabum jigget
Read them aloud. Such rhythms, such euphony! Apparently they derive from a Brythonic Celtic language long lost. I like old things, don't you? I just hope the US grundies don't find something to object to here, though dick and bumfit might be a bit near the knuckle for them.

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