The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #27634   Message #4176228
Posted By: Steve Gardham
06-Jul-23 - 04:25 PM
Thread Name: a song called alla balla (children's rhyme?)
Subject: RE: a song called alla balla (children's rhyme?)
The most likely usage is as a counting out rhyme (eliminator in a game) and most of these are just nonsense syllables, but some may have been corruptions of something with meaning originally. However, such concoctions can also be found randomly in pop songs like 'The Witchdoctor' where they are supposed to represent a foreign language, nowadays quite rightly seen as racist.

There was also a two-ball/skipping rhyme which starts
Alla-balla-boushka King of the Jews
Bought his wife a pair of shoes
When the shoes began to wear
Alla-balla-boushka bought another pair. (Hull, 1950s)

The name in other versions varies 'Nebuchadnezzar' for example.