Sunday, February 8, 2015

A matter of choice

As parents know all too well, children function differently from adults.  They do have a logic to their choices, just not the same as their elders.  One of the ways children worldwide pick among similar options is by means of a song.  The actual words vary from country to country, but the idea is that the last syllable falls on the selected choice.
For example, in most English speaking countries, the selection song, with some local variations, goes like this.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If it hollers, let it go
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

The animal and punishment varies, including go to jail in the Welsh version.  Of course, children have additional verses to string out the process and add tension.

The Hebrew version consists of a chorus and seemingly endless verses.  The chorus is as follows:

Enden dino, sof al hakatino
Sof al haki kato
Elik belik bom

Unlike the English version, there is no clear meaning, as least to the non-scholar, to the words of the chorus.

The French picking process turns out, rather surprising, to be mispronounced German:

Am, stram, gram
Pic et pic et colégram
Bour et bour et ratatam
Am, stram, gram

The meaning, unknown to the children no doubt, is the following: one, two three, steal, steal, maybug, run, run horseman, one two three.  As they say in jazz, it is the rhythm that counts, not the words.

Russian children make hard decisions as follows:
На златом крыльце сидели:
Царь, царевич, король, королевич,
Сапожник, портной -
Кто ты будешь такой?
Говори поскорей,

Не задерживай 
Добрых и честных людей

This can be transliterated as follows:
Na zlatom krilze cidyeli /  Csar, parevich, korol, korolevich / sapojnik, portnoi / Kto ti budyesh takoi / Govori poskoryei / Nye zaderjibai / Lubich I chestnich lyudei
And translated as:
On the gold porch sat / Tzar, Tzarivich, prince, and young prince / shoemaker, tailor / Who are to be such? / Speak faster / Go ahead / of the good and kind people [Better translations are welcome]
The Russian version has clearly much more content.

So, if you have the privilege of hearing a child making a hard decision, listen to the rhythm of words and see if you can guess who or what will be picked.  You have to admit that the song method is much more entertaining than the adult version of flipping a coin.

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