Off topic: Songs or anything of recursive repetition pattern
Thread poster: Zhoudan
Zhoudan  Identity Verified
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English to Chinese
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Sep 5, 2003

After reading Jack Doughty's posting on punch lines (http://www.proz.com/topic/12506), I become very interested in songs of recursive repetition pattern, such as "there is hole in my buck" and the "priest's dog." If you happen to know a song of this kind, would you kindly post it here? Please post only in English. Thanks.

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giogi
Local time: 01:07
that's what I used to sing to my daughter when she was a little little girl! Sep 5, 2003

Zhoudan wrote:

After reading Jack Doughty's posting on punch lines (http://www.proz.com/topic/12506), I become very interested in songs of recursive repetition pattern, such as "there is hole in my buck" and the "priest's dog." If you happen to know a song of this kind, would you kindly post it here? Please post only in English. Thanks.


There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza
There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Well fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
Well fix it dear Henry, dear Henry fix it.
With what shall I fix it, dear Liza dear Liza
With what shall I fix it, dear Liza with what?
With a straw dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
With a straw dear Henry dear Henry, a straw.
The straw is too long, dear Liza dear Liza
The straw is too long, dear Liza too long.
Well cut it dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry
Well cut it dear Henry dear Henry cut it.
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza dear Liza
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza With what?
With an axe dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry
With an axe dear Henry dear Henry an axe.
With what shall I sharpen it, dear Liza dear Liza
With what shall I sharpen it, dear Liza With what?
With a stone dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry
With a stone dear Henry dear Henry a stone.
The stone is too dry, dear Liza dear Liza
The stone is too dry, dear Liza too dry.
Then wet it dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry
Then wet it dear Henry dear Henry wet it.
With what shall I wet it, dear Liza dear Liza
With what shall I wet it, dear Liza with what?
With water dear Henry, dear Heny dear Henry
With water dear Henry dear Henry water.
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza dear Liza
In what shall I fetch it dear Liza fetch it?
With a bucket dear Henry, dear Henry dear Henry
With a bucket dear Henry dear Henry a bucket.
There's a hole in my bucket dear Liza dear Liza
There's a hole in my bucket dear Liza a hole.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
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The Man With the Power Sep 5, 2003

The only one I could think of is one I thought was just a schoolboy joke, but apparently it comes originally from a film and later from a song.

From: http://pub21ezboard.com/fdrunkardswalkforumsfm.showMessage?topicID=100.topic

The song "Magic Dance" is also fun because it quotes (actually slightly misquotes) dialogue from the film "The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer", starring Cary Grant and a teenaged Shirley Temple. The following exchange is between the two of them, and gets whipped out, rapidfire patter style:

You remind me of the man.
What man?
The man with the power.
What power?
The power of hoodoo.
Hoodoo?
You do.
Do what?
Remind me of the man.

(etc., etc., ad infinitum)


[Edited at 2003-09-05 21:36]


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
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There was an old (English) lady..... Sep 6, 2003

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
That buzzed and buzzed and buzzed inside her
I don't know why she swallowed a fly
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and jiggled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
That buzzed and buzzed and buzzed inside her
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird
How absurd! To swallow a bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and jiggled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
That buzzed and buzzed and buzzed inside her
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat
Fancy that! To swallow a cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
How absurd! To swallow a bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and jiggled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
That buzzed and buzzed and buzzed inside her
I don't know why she swallowed a fly.
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog
What a hog! To swallow a dog
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat
Fancy that! She swallowed a cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
How absurd! To swallow a bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and jiggled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
That buzzed and buzzed and buzzed inside her
I don't know why she swallowed a fly
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow
I don't know how she swallowed a cow
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog
What a hog! She swallowed a dog
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat
Fancy that! She swallowed a cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
How absurd! To swallow a bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and jiggled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
That buzzed and buzzed and buzzed inside her
I don't know why she swallowed a fly
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse
Poor old lady she died of course,
It's impossible of course
To swallow a horse.

This is a variant of an old song sung in Britain. Curiously I remember reading about a (different) Jewish song-game, perhaps from Hungary, that reminded me of it, perhaps involving a butcher.

And then there's the Georgian one about the grapes and the vineyard....

[Edited at 2003-09-06 17:45]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
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Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Sep 6, 2003

Since this begins and ends with flowers, you could logically start at the beginning again from the end of it, though I don't think it is usually performed in this way.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Marlene Dietrich used to sing this song, and she also sang it in German.

Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind
Wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind
Was ist geschehn?
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind
Mädchen pflückten sie geschwind
Wann wird man je verstehn?
Wann wird man je verstehn?


Sag mir, wo die Mädchen sind
Wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag mir, wo die Mädchen sind
Was ist geschehn?
Sag mir, wo die Mädchen sind
Männer nahmen sie geschwind
Wann wird man je verstehn?
Wann wird man je verstehn?


Sag mir, wo die Männer sind
Wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag mir, wo die Männer sind
Was ist geschehn?
Sag mir, wo die Männer sind
Zogen fort, der Krieg beginnt
Wann wird man je verstehn?
Wann wird man je verstehn?


Sag, wo die Soldaten sind
Wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag, wo die Soldaten sind
Was ist geschehn?
Sag, wo die Soldaten sind
Über Gräber weht der Wind
Wann wird man je verstehn?
Wann wird man je verstehn?


Sag mir, wo die Gräber sind
Wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag mir, wo die Gräber sind
Was ist geschehn?
Sag mir, wo die Gräber sind
Blumen wehn im Sommerwind
Wann wird man je verstehn?
Wann wird man je verstehn?


Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind
Wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind
Was ist geschehn?
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind
Mädchen pflückten sie geschwind
Wann wird man je verstehn?
Wann wird man je verstehn?


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
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On Ilkley Moor Bar T'at Sep 7, 2003

This Yorkshire dialect song, though not strictly speaking a repetitive-recursive one (nor is “The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly”), follows the same progression to death and decay as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, but not in such a serious vein; so I thought it might be of interest to include it.

On Ilkley Moor Bar T'at

Where hast tha been since I saw thee?
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.
Where hast tha been since I saw thee?
Where hast tha been since I saw thee?
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Tha’s been a courting Mary Jane,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.
Tha’s been a courting Mary Jane,
Tha’s been a courting Mary Jane,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Tha’lt go and catch thy death o’ cold,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at
Tha’lt go and catch thy death o’ cold,
Tha’lt go and catch thy death o’ cold,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Then we shall have to bury thee,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
Then we shall have to bury thee,
Then we shall have to bury thee,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Then t’worms'll come and eat thee up,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
Then t’worms'll come and eat thee up,
Then t’worms'll come and eat thee up,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Then t’ducks'll come and eat up t’worms,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
Then t’ducks'll come and eat up t’worms,
Then t’ducks'll come and eat up t’worms,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Then we shall come and eat up t’ducks,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
Then we shall come and eat up t’ducks,
Then we shall come and eat up t’ducks,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Then we shall all have eaten thee,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
Then we shall all have eaten thee,
Then we shall all have eaten thee,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at, on Ilkley Moor bar t'at,
On Ilkley Moor bar t'at.

Translation:
On Ilkley Moor without a hat.
Where have you been since I saw you?
You’ve been courting Mary Jane.
You’ll go and catch your death of cold.
Then we shall have to bury you.
Then the worms will come and eat you up.
Then the ducks will come and eat up the worms.
Then we shall come and eat up the ducks.
Then we shall all have eaten you.

Note that the singular forms “Thou, thee, thy” still exist in this dialect, though they have died out in Standard English. If you want to know more about the Yorkshire dialect, try clanvis.com/loc/dialect/home.htm
because, as they say in Yorkshire, "If tha wants owt doin' reet, do it thissen!"

[Edited at 2003-09-07 10:22]

[Edited at 2003-09-07 10:23]


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
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"One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow..." & "Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall" Sep 7, 2003

& "there were ten in a bed"
Not necessarily so philosophical as
"On Ilkley Moor Bar T'at"
but for the above three old songs sung in the UK, see:
http://www.musicalenglishlessons.com/music-singsongs.htm#meadow
(well, I don't know - there were ten in a bed is sort of philosophical, in a way...)

Not fully recursive I know, but repetitive at least


"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", what a sad, moving, beautiful song - thank you for reminding me of it, and putting it here...

[Edited at 2003-09-07 23:22]

[Edited at 2003-09-07 23:23]


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
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A song in spanish? Sep 8, 2003

Zhoudan wrote:

After reading Jack Doughty's posting on punch lines (http://www.proz.com/topic/12506), I become very interested in songs of recursive repetition pattern, such as "there is hole in my buck" and the "priest's dog." If you happen to know a song of this kind, would you kindly post it here? Please post only in English. Thanks.


Since I'm not sure if you want the post or the song only in English, I'll give you my 2 cents. (Roughly translated to English, obviously)

"The Elephant"

"One elephant
was swinging
on a spiderweb
since he saw
it hold its weight
he went to call one more elephant

Two elephants
were swinging
on a spiderweb
since they saw
it hold their weight
they went to call one more elephant

Three elephants
were swinging
on a spiderweb
since they saw
it hold their weight
they went to call one more elephant

Four elephants
were swinging
on a spiderweb
since they saw
it hold their weight
they went to call one more elephant
...."

Ad infinitum

There is a joke about a prisoner about to be shot, and when asked about his last wish, he said: "I want to sing my favorite song, and to sing it until it ends." When the squad sargent agreed, he began: "One elephant...."


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
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Elephants on a Spiders' Web Sep 11, 2003

I always thought this was an English song - now, who knows which language was translated into which?
My wife knew it as a child and taught it to our children. The English version goes:

One elephant began to play
Upon a spider's web one day.
He was having such tremendous fun.
He called upon another elephant to come.

Two elephants began to play....
(etc.)


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Zhoudan  Identity Verified
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sep 27, 2003

I had a good time reading all your posts and actually recommended two of them to a friend working for a teenage magazine.

Zhoudan


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