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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Summary Details

Query:   Recursion in Children's Rhymes
Author:  Jill de Villiers
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Syntax
Language Acquisition

Summary:   Regarding query: http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/17/17-470.html#1

Dear Linguist List,

I recently posted a query asking linguists to consult their memories of
childhood, especially in other languages, to help us in compiling a
database of children’s rhymes (nursery rhymes, skipping rhymes, songs,
those in verbatim folk takes etc.) that display recursion (NP, PP, S – even
event recursion interests us.)

We received about a dozen responses, and in the course of them we did add a
few to our database. Many people mentioned the classic poem that is part of
the Passover meal, the Chad Gadya, originally in Aramaic. We learned about
a rhyme from Chile that is in roughly the same form as ‘the house that Jack
built”, and a popular Italian song. We are still missing rhymes from many
areas of the world’s languages, especially lacking African, indigenous
American languages, Slavic and East Asia, so please keep writing to us!

At present we have the following possible recursion examples, but virtually
all from Indo-European languages.

Please continue to email us as jdevil@smith.edu, ccaulfie@smith.edu

Jill de Villiers

File Name Language
Da kamen alle Hunde German
Estaba la rana sentada Spanish
In A Dark Dark Forest English
Korean Song (still untranslated) Korean
La Casa Que Pedro Fez Portuguese
''La Chiva'' (The little she-goat) Spanish
London Bridge English
One Dark and Stormy Night English
Rattling Bog English
Summerisle English
The Death and Burial of Poor Hen-Sparrow Urdu? (only translation available)
The Domicile Erected By John English
The Grain of Corn Punjabi (only translation available)
The House That Jack Built English
The Key of the King's Garden English
The Man Who Jumped English
The Old Woman and Her Pig English
The Song That Never Ends English
The Story of the Little Old Woman and the Lamb Welsh (only translation
The Twelve Days of Christmas English
The Want of a Nail English
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly English
There's A Hole In My Bucket English
There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea English
This Is The Key of the Universe English
Un Hoyo en el fondo de la mar Spanish
Une Perdriole French
Who Knows One? Hebrew
Chad Gadya - One Little Goat Aramaic/Chaldaic

LL Issue: 17.847
Date Posted: 20-Mar-2006


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