The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47148   Message #702925
Posted By: GUEST,Nerd
02-May-02 - 11:59 AM
Thread Name: eena meena mackeracka (children's rhymes)
Subject: RE: eena meena mackeracka
By the way, the derivation from Celtic numbers is very speculative. No numbers in any Celtic language sound like eeny meeny miny mo, for example, though the number one sounds a bit like eeny, as it does in Spanish (Uno) and many other indo-European languages. There was a time when proving a "Celtic" heritage for any piece of folklore was fashionable, because (in England at least) it suggested that the the folklore in question was very old--a survival of before the Saxon conquest of Britain. Since the first folklorists were antiquarians, they were always claiming everything they recorded was an ancient fertility rite of Celtic or pre-Celtic times. People have even claimed that "eeny meeny miny moe" became a counting out rhyme when it was used by druids to select among prisoners for one to be sacrificed!

That said, there are various weird-sounding counting systems in England, for use both in counting-out among children, and counting sheep among shepherds. Some of them do have clear Celtic parallels, while for others scholars jump through hoops to try to fit them into a Celtic mold.