An Essay on the Archaeology of Our Popular Phrases, and Nursery Rhymes, Volume 1 (Google eBook)

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Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Company, 1837 - English language
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Anyone who has enjoyed the mad book of "French" nursery rhymes, "Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames" by Luis van Rooten will love this account of the "Dutch" origins of, not only old English nursery rhymes, but also common phrases like "Raining cats and dogs", expressed in real Dutch words that sound like the original, but translate as something quite different!
It's a long read, and probably more meaningful if you speak Dutch, but good for a straight-faced laugh, if you know what I mean!
I was also impressed by some of the nursery rhymes that haven't survived into modern English, because they are so politically incorrect.
 

Selected pages

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 278 - Sing a song of sixpence, A pocket full of rye; Four and twenty blackbirds Baked in a pie. When the pie was opened, The birds began to sing; Was not that a dainty dish To set before the king!
Page 270 - Rockabye Baby, on the tree top, When the wind blows the cradle will rock, When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, Down will come baby, cradle and all.
Page 264 - JACK and Jill went up the hill, To fetch a pail of water; Jack fell down and broke his crown And Jill came tumbling after.
Page 277 - Little Boy Blue, Come blow your horn, The sheep's in the meadow, The cow's in the corn. Where is the boy Who looks after the sheep? He's under the haycock Fast asleep.
Page 253 - Hey, my kitten, hey, my kitten, And hey, my kitten, my deary ! Such a sweet pet as this Was neither far nor neary. Here we go up, up, up, And here we go down, down, down, And here we go backwards and forwards, And here we go round, round, roundy.
Page 274 - There was an old woman, and what do you think? She lived upon nothing but victuals and drink; Victuals and drink were the whole of her diet, And yet this old woman would never be quiet.
Page 251 - The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown: The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town. Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown: Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.
Page 146 - The sun and day shall sooner part, Than love or you shake off my heart ; The sun, that shall no more dispense His own, but your bright influence. I'll carve your name on barks of trees...
Page 283 - TAFFY WAS A WELSHMAN Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of beef.
Page 271 - GIRLS and boys, come out to play, The moon doth shine as bright as day; Leave your supper, and leave your sleep, And come with your playfellows into the street. Come with a whoop, come with a call, Come with a good will or not at all.

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