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Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?

Penny S. 10 Jun 99 - 02:31 PM
MMario 10 Jun 99 - 03:53 PM
Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin 10 Jun 99 - 04:02 PM
Penny S. 10 Jun 99 - 04:12 PM
Penny S. 10 Jun 99 - 04:15 PM
Ian HP 10 Jun 99 - 06:26 PM
Ian 11 Jun 99 - 10:51 AM
Penny S. 11 Jun 99 - 12:50 PM
MMario 11 Jun 99 - 01:01 PM
Ian HP 11 Jun 99 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Bob Roberts 02 Mar 05 - 11:41 PM
pavane 03 Mar 05 - 02:33 AM
GUEST,Mingulay at work 03 Mar 05 - 04:56 AM
pavane 03 Mar 05 - 05:48 AM
pavane 03 Mar 05 - 06:24 AM
pavane 03 Mar 05 - 06:26 AM
rich-joy 03 Mar 05 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,Bad Cuilionn, no biscuit 03 Mar 05 - 08:34 PM
GUEST,Welshwoman 12 Dec 06 - 07:47 AM
Scrump 12 Dec 06 - 09:08 AM
Mr Happy 12 Dec 06 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 12 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM
Nigel Parsons 12 Dec 06 - 12:52 PM
Garry Gillard 13 Dec 06 - 04:49 AM
Betsy 13 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM
Penny S. 13 Dec 06 - 06:52 PM
Garry Gillard 13 Dec 06 - 11:40 PM
GUEST,Mandoleer 14 Dec 06 - 02:40 PM
Penny S. 14 Dec 06 - 06:20 PM
GUEST 11 Jan 07 - 02:37 AM
GUEST,Guest Gaffer 11 Jan 07 - 06:07 AM
Mr Happy 11 Jan 07 - 07:19 AM
Scrump 11 Jan 07 - 07:38 AM
oggie 11 Jan 07 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Dave Sunshine 11 Jan 07 - 09:39 PM
Scrump 12 Jan 07 - 03:42 AM
RobbieWilson 12 Jan 07 - 04:23 AM
Scrump 12 Jan 07 - 04:50 AM
Tootler 12 Jan 07 - 06:41 AM
Scrump 12 Jan 07 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,Theoriser 07 Jul 08 - 06:38 PM
Folkiedave 08 Jul 08 - 04:27 AM
Bryn Pugh 08 Jul 08 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,iant 08 Jul 08 - 05:03 AM
Tig 08 Jul 08 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Tom Hawley 18 Jul 08 - 01:06 AM
Silas 18 Jul 08 - 07:41 AM
Mr Happy 18 Jul 08 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 18 Jul 08 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,Julia 19 Jul 08 - 12:10 AM
GUEST,DMA 19 Jul 08 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Not Silas 30 Jan 09 - 01:40 PM
Jack Campin 30 Jan 09 - 05:18 PM
Lady Nancy 31 Jan 09 - 10:31 AM
Snuffy 31 Jan 09 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,PMC 13 Oct 09 - 09:30 AM
Sue Allan 13 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,Audrey 03 May 10 - 03:29 PM
Rob Naylor 04 May 10 - 02:46 PM
Will Fly 04 May 10 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Tig 04 May 10 - 06:06 PM
Janet Elizabeth 28 May 12 - 06:30 PM
Nigel Parsons 29 May 12 - 06:09 AM
Rob Naylor 29 May 12 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,Eats acorns 04 Jun 12 - 12:43 AM
GUEST,William 16 Nov 12 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Theoriser 19 Oct 13 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,Theoriser 04 Apr 14 - 01:39 PM
GUEST 04 Apr 14 - 08:30 PM
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GUEST,Theoriser 02 Jan 18 - 04:55 AM
Nigel Parsons 02 Jan 18 - 06:43 AM
Steve Gardham 02 Jan 18 - 11:34 AM
Gutcher 02 Jan 18 - 11:40 AM
Allan Conn 03 Jan 18 - 04:07 AM
peteaberdeen 04 Jan 18 - 12:04 PM
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GUEST,Theoriser 06 Jan 18 - 02:42 PM
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rich-joy 17 Feb 18 - 08:34 PM
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Subject: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Penny S.
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 02:31 PM

Has anyone the words to this Welsh (I believe) shepherd's count? My year at school is thinking of basing some literacy work on this sort of piece, and though we have a number of different versions probably derived from Yan Tan Tethera, we can't find that one. Any others would also be useful.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: MMario
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 03:53 PM

Url:http://hum2mac1.murdoch.edu.au/watersons/lincolnshire.html

Lincolnshire_shepherd

URL:http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/cmi/tens.htm

scroll_to_count_to_ten

URL:http://www.zompist.com/sources.htm

some_additional_imfo

MMario


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 04:02 PM

Something similar in a Yorkshire shepherd song about 'Old Molly Metcalfe' (or perhaps 'Mad Molly Metcalfe - but it may be modern, and possibly based on the Lincolnshire Shepherd song.' Jake Thackeray and Tony Capstick have both done versions of it.:

Yan, Tan, Tether, Mether, Pip she counted.

Shoh slaynt,

Bobby Bob


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Penny S.
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 04:12 PM

MMario,

Thanks, I knew I had seen something of those numbers here, but couldn't find anything on the search. And the other sites are great, too. Our copies go up to 20, and interestingly group numbers in fives. As if they go one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, one-ten, two-ten, three-ten, four-ten, fifteen, one-fifteen, two-fifteen, three-fifteen, four-fifteen, twenty. One of the printed versions at school has inadvertently omitted fifteen, and we're going to get the children to deduce the missing word by comparison with other versions.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Penny S.
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 04:15 PM

It's interesting that the Celtic words are found as far east as in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and various other such sources, but in Sussex the words are almost totally unconnected.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Ian HP
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 06:26 PM

Old Molly Metcalfe is a wonderful song, and it was written by Jake Thackray. In it, he counts up to 20: yan tan tether mether pip azer sazer acker conter dick yanerdick tanerdick thetheradick metheradick bumfit yanerbum tanerbum tetherabum metherabum jiggit (don't know if the spellings are correct) which is a North Riding of Yorkshire way of counting sheep. I forget which album it's on, but if you want to know I'll post it. Unfortunately you can't buy this album except if you're lucky at a record fair.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Ian
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 10:51 AM

Who says they're "celtic" words? My understanding is that these counting words run approximately from Northumbria to Gloucestershire and are also known to some extent in the Welsh border country. They appear to be unheard of in Ireland and Scotland.

The only authoritative source I have read suggests that they may be pre-celtic and belong to an earlier wave of population but according to their spread they might just as easily be "Anglo Saxon" or even Norman French (though there is no etymological argument for either of these, just as there is none to associate them with any "celtic" language).

In parts of the Danelaw, particularly Yorkshire, there is a counting rhyme which goes like this (I'm sure I've missed a few).

Eeny, meeny, mackeracker, ee, aye, dominacker, ... chickeracker, om pom push.

Does anybody know any better versions of this?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Penny S.
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 12:50 PM

Thanks for the full set: they work with the versions I have already. The site MMario gave gives Brythonic as the identification, which would fit their not being found in Ireland or Scotland. I think it may say something about which people were looking after the sheep, that a possibly pre-Celtic survival is found over such a spread. The South Downs being very different may mean that the Saxons were not responsible for the Yan Tan set.

Here are some others:

Sussex

One-erum, twoerum, cockerum, shoe-erum, sitherum, satherum, wineberry wagtail, tarradiddle, den. This gives a count of 20, because it was for counting ewes in twos.

Unknown sources (The first is in "The Oxford Treasury of Children's Poems", the others from "Junior Voices" Penguin, none with any explanation)

Eeny, teeny, ether, fether, fip, satha, latha, ko, darthur, dick, ten-dick, teendick, etherdick, featherdick bunkin, eenbunkin, teenbunkin, etherbunkin, fetherbunkin, digit.

ane, tane, tother, feather, sother, lother, co, deffrey, dick, eendick, teendick, totherdick, featherdick, bumfrey, eenbumfrey, teenbumfrey, totherbumfrey, featherbumfrey, gigit.

eina, mina, pera, peppera, pinn, chester, nester, nera, nin, dickera, einadickera, minadickera, peradickera, pepperadickera, pumpi, einapumpi, minapumpi, perapumpi, pepperapumpi, ticket.

aina, peina, para, peddera, pimp, ithy, mithy, owera, lowera, dig, ainadig, peinadig, paradig, pedderadig, bumfit, ainabumfit, peinabumfit, parabumfit, pedderabumfit, giggy.

een, teen, tuther, futher, fip, sother, lother, porter, dubber, dick, eendick, teendick, tutherdick, futherdick, bumpit, eenbumpit, teenbumpit, tutherbumpit, futherbumpit, gigit.

The Penguin also gives some counting out rhymes which seem to be derived from these number lists.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: MMario
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 01:01 PM

oh my, what a patter song could be done using several of these! I can practically HEAR it, preferably sung by Danny Kaye....

MMario


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Ian HP
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 01:21 PM

Old Molly Metcalfe by Jake Thackray is on his album 'Bantam Cock' - well worth looking it up.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Bob Roberts
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 11:41 PM

Is it Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pits, azer, sethera...and 20 is jiggit?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: pavane
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 02:33 AM

You may also find this list interesting - counting to 10 in hundreds of languages, including many Celtic ones:

Count to ten


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Mingulay at work
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 04:56 AM

As I know it, it is yan, tan, tethera, pethera, pimp, sethera, methera, hoverer, coverer, dik, yanadik, tanadik, tetheradik, petheradik, bumfits, yanabumfits, tanabumfits, tetherabumfits, metherabumfits, figgits.

That takes you from one to twenty. As I understand it this is North Lincolnshire dialect and descends from our Norse ancestors. Used by shepherds on the Wolds into the last century.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: pavane
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 05:48 AM

I believe that 'Hickory Dickory Dock' were supposed to be 8,9,10 in another version.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: pavane
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 06:24 AM

Ian,
It can be seen from that link I posted above, that the shepherds counting resembles the Brythonic Celtic counting most closely, particularly in the words Pethera, Pimp and Dick.

Apart from the Celtic languages, the only other ones with the K to P sound shift which results in Pethera from the assumed Proto_Indo_European *kwetwores (e.g. Quatre in French) appear to be Italic (Oscan, Umbrian)
and



Whether it came via the Norse I don't know, but the Normans (?Northmen) were decendents of the Vikings who settled in Normandy, and maybe picked it up from there?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: pavane
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 06:26 AM

Sorry, it escaped before I added Romanian after the AND


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: rich-joy
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 07:33 AM

there are definitely more Mudcat threads on this subject, coz I recall the late Little John Cameron sourcing some interesting info for me ...

Cheers!
R-J


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Bad Cuilionn, no biscuit
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 08:34 PM

I'm sure I've posted this elsewhere, but might as well mention it again-- for folks with access to copies of the American film, "The Music Man," (written by Meredith Wilson about the stubborn citizens of an Iowa town, circa 1900), the "Yan Tan Tethera" bit shows up again, this time masquerading as a recitation of counting "in the Indian Language" at a town pageant. It's really rather bizarre to be watching a musical drama based in small-town America 100 years ago, and have a Lincolnshire (or proto-Anglo-Saxon or whatever) shepherd's rhyme leap out at you!

--Cuilionn


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Welshwoman
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 07:47 AM

This is the Swaledale (Yorkshire Dales) method of counting sheep,as I learnt it:

Yan, Tan, Tether, Mether, Pip, Azer, Sezar, Akker, Conter, Dick Yanadick, Tanadick, Tetheradick, Metheradick, Bumfit, Yanabum, Tanabum, Tetherabum, Metherabum, Jigget.

The count doesn't go beyond 20, because a stone was dropped for every group of 20 sheep counted,and if there were more sheep the count started again.

I don't know of a Welsh version for counting sheep specifically, but one to ten in Welsh is: un, dau, tri, pedwar, pump (pron. pimp), chwerch, saith, wyth, naw, deg, which has similarities.

My own theory is that it originated with the Brythonic speakers and spread down from the North of England as the Brigantes tribes pushed downwards. Tacitus seems to suggest that by the time the Romans invaded just about the whole of what we now know as England was populated by people of Celtic blood.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Scrump
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 09:08 AM

Yes, the song "Old Molly Metcalfe", mentioned above, was written by Jake Thackray and, since the earlier postings in this thread, it has been made available on CD. In fact all of Jake's EMI output is available on a box set, including some that was never previously issued. (No financial interest, just a JT fan!)


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 09:57 AM

For more info, see here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yan_Tan_Tethera


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM

Another version, from Cumbria (I got this from a letter in the Guardian about 1980):

Yan, tyan, tethera. methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, othera, dothera, deek, yandeek, tyandeek, tetheradeek, metheradeek, bumfit, yanabumfit, tyanabumfit, tetherabumfit, metherabumfit, jiggit.

That was as high as it went, you notched a stick for every 20 sheep.

Those numbers are closer to modern Welsh than most of the other versions posted here.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 12:52 PM

Shepherds Counting systems here's the other thread on the subject

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 13 Dec 06 - 04:49 AM

The Watersons recorded 'this' song in 1981, and what purports to be their version is here. I don't know where I got these words, but they're not exactly what Mike sings. It would be good to have a correct transcription to put up - if any Yorkshireperson would be kind enough.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Betsy
Date: 13 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM

Hiya Garry , I can't properly remember , - but there is a good chance that the Watersons or Mikes' version "got " from friends of theirs - Jim & Mu Wilkinson who live on a farm at Tranmire just the outskirts of Whitby.

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Penny S.
Date: 13 Dec 06 - 06:52 PM

Fancy seeing this again. I have been teaching that the notch cut on the 20 was a score, as in scoring paper, and hence score = 20. can anyone confirm that?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 13 Dec 06 - 11:40 PM

Yes, COED and SOED both see 'score' as being derived from Old Norse skor = notch, tally, twenty.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Mandoleer
Date: 14 Dec 06 - 02:40 PM

Here's a Lancashire version: Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pimp, teezar, leezar, cattera, horna, dik, yandik, tandik, tetherdik, bumpit, yan-a-bumpit, tan-a-bumpit, tethera-bumpit, methera-bumpit, jigot. Interesting point about the connection with Welsh is that Modern Welsh counts to 15 and then adds one, two, etc, like the bumpit here, but Old Welsh didn't. Off the wall idea - you can count to 15 with fingers and toes without falling over.....


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Penny S.
Date: 14 Dec 06 - 06:20 PM

When did Old Welsh make the switch?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jan 07 - 02:37 AM

I think it was:

Yan tan tethera pethera pimp
Sethera bethera hoverer coverer dick
Yanadick tanadick setheradick petheradick bumfit!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Guest Gaffer
Date: 11 Jan 07 - 06:07 AM

There was a recent ?BBC4 documentary on Jake in which he gave a heartbreaking into to the song - how the poor toothless, windswept shepherdess was a recent ancestor and died of old age at 28, and subsequently admitted he'd made it all up! It would break my heart if there were no Leopold Allcocks! I've often noticed how five and ten tend to be punchy and monosyllabic across so many languages (apologies to Italian and Castillian) which is presumably related to the earliest digital computers. Five-based (pentary?) systems also manifest in tally-marking (I II III IIII then the diagonal across them, and to some extent in the number system which deservedly fell with the Roman Empire


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Jan 07 - 07:19 AM

I was a dreadful scholar.
I found all the lessons hard.
The only thing I knew for sure was three feet make a yard.
To count to ten I used my fingers.
If I needed more.
By getting my shoes and socks off.
I could count to twenty-four.
(Pause...count: 1 2 3 4 5....) To twenty-five!

I'm Jake the peg, deedle eedle eedle um.
With my extra leg, deedle eedle eedle um.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Scrump
Date: 11 Jan 07 - 07:38 AM

the number system which deservedly fell with the Roman Empire

My own theory is that the ancient Romans' greatly inferior numbering system (when compared to the Arabic system on which ours is based) caused the fall of their Empire :-)


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: oggie
Date: 11 Jan 07 - 06:12 PM

I learnt it from on old shepherd in Lincolnshire who'd worked all over the North but the start was 'yanera, tanera, tethera, methera, pipera'. The reason for the extended count (as opposed to one, two, three etc) is to give the sheep time to get by you in single file as you pen them.

oggie


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Dave Sunshine
Date: 11 Jan 07 - 09:39 PM

I first came across this counting system very many years ago in one of the autobiographies of James Agate (Ego, Ego2, Ego3 etc..)- a Theatre Critic of some note (early/mid 20th century)- where he says it always reminded him of Moseiwicz adding up Bridge scores in Russian!

LOTS more alphabets at

http://www.slaidburn.org.uk/counting_sheep.htm#TOP


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Scrump
Date: 12 Jan 07 - 03:42 AM

Forgot to add, yes, Tony Capstick did record "Old Molly Metcalfe" too, on one of his albums (I forget which, I'd have to do some digging).


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 12 Jan 07 - 04:23 AM

I too saw the Thackery documentary where he said he made this nonsense up. A google search turns up only Thackery and Terry pratchett who used it in 1998.

This seems somewhat at odds with the anecdotes throughout this thread. Does anyone have any evidence of this as a real counting system or has Jakes yarn been spun from mouth to mouth and believed as true?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Scrump
Date: 12 Jan 07 - 04:50 AM

Robbie - try doing a Google search for Jake Thackray (the correct spelling), not Thackrey - you might find more references.

To answer your question: the counting system is real enough. Jake wrote the song Old Molly Metcalfe which uses it. He used to introduce the song with a tale about a shepherdess who died out in the fields with her sheep (as told in the lyrics of the song), and (allegedly)claimed it was a true story. Later on he apparently admitted it wasn't true after all, and he'd made it up.

As mentioned higher up the thread, there are several variations of the counting system in different parts of the country. Jake's was based on the Swaledale version.

I don't personally have the evidence that you requested, i.e. to prove that JT was the original source of the counting system, but I'm sure such evidence exists - someone else may be able to tell you where (maybe a reference to a pre-1960s book would suffice?).


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Tootler
Date: 12 Jan 07 - 06:41 AM

We have a video about the hand knitters of Dent in the Western Yorkshire Dales. They used the same counting system for counting the rows of knitting.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Scrump
Date: 12 Jan 07 - 06:44 AM

Doh! Typos in the above (Thackery is the wrong spelling used by Robbie, but Thackrey is wrong anyway - Thackray is definitely right!)

Last para should say "...JT was not the original source..."

What I was trying to say was, if someone can point to a book dated before the 1960s (or better, before JT's birth date whenever that was - 1940ish?) that mentions the 'sheep' counting system, that would prove it wasn't just JT's own invention.

My belief is that he didn't invent it, just the story about Molly Metcalfe (and of course the song about her). But I admit I can't prove it as I don't have any evidence!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 06:38 PM

The "yan, tan tethera" counting system is a fascinating survival in the modern age. My belief is that it was originally pre-celtic, although it has been strongly influenced by Brythonic. Has anyone noticed that in Burushaski, a language isolate in Kashmir, the numbers begin "hin, altan", and that it uses base twenty. Could it be possible that primitive pastoralists moved from Asia into Europe, long after Basque and Georgian had existed, but well before the metal-working, horse riding Proto Indo-Europeans? They would have spoken something like Nostratic, before the eurasian language familes split. The "un, dau" of Welsh seems to me quite a way from "yin, tan", and the number nine, "conter, horna etc" seems closer to Burushaski "huncho" than Welsh "naw". My mother heard as a young woman from a friend of one the goons, that "ying, tong, iddle,i, po" was one to five in a south-east asian language isolate! What are your thoughts, guys and girls?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 04:27 AM

Of course the other wqay of countingsheep is to total up the number of legs and divide by four.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 04:45 AM

I learned it as follows, from calibrating dyestuffs vats with water, and marking the number of measures off in fives : four uprights and a cancelling horizontal stroke :

(note : the 'th' sound is 'eth' - soft - rather than 'thorn' - hard)

Yan, tan, tithera, pithera, pimp ;

sethera, lethera, hothera, dothera, dick ;

yan-a-dick, tan-a-dick, tithera-dick, pithera-dick, bumfit ;

yan-a-bumfit, tan-a-bumfit, tithera-bumfit, pithera-bumfit, jiggott.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,iant
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 05:03 AM

Check out www.lakelanddialectsociety.org/counting_sheep


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Tig
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 08:25 AM

Since I learnt the system (North Yorkshire version) from my Grandad long before I knew Jake, who taught with my Dad, I can definately say that he was NOT the originator of the system.

Molly Metcalf as such didn't exist in real life. Jake wanted a lead into his song and having spent a lot of time up in the Dales realised what hard going it was. A true teller of tales he made Molly up from his knowledge of such things.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Tom Hawley
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 01:06 AM

I had never heard of such a thing until yesterday. In Harry Ricketts' biography of Rudyard Kipling, it is related that Mr Kipling and others are walking about and hear a shepard counting "een, teen, tethera, fethera, fib, hater, slater, quoter, diver, dig."

The others took it as nonsense words, but Mr Kipling identified it as "Saxon numerals."


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Silas
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 07:41 AM

I bet Jake is having a bloody good laugh, wherever e is. BUMFIT. Oh come ON!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 07:51 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yan_Tan_Tethera


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 02:34 PM

Interesting that it uses base twenty which makes you wonder, did some ancient cultures originally count on their fingers AND toes?

Incidentally you can use a binary (base 2) system where each finger represents a one or zero, each one twice the value of the one to its right. This way you can count up to 31 with one hand, or 1023 with both.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Julia
Date: 19 Jul 08 - 12:10 AM

There was, in fact a scholarly comparison made with Native American counting systems... interesting that it should show up on Broadway!
I shall find my source documents and post them when I surface from the inundation I am experiencing presently

cheers- Julia


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,DMA
Date: 19 Jul 08 - 04:50 AM

I learnt it at primary school in 1959 in the Lake District— I was told it was the old shepherds' way of counting. No mention of Jake!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Not Silas
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 01:40 PM

"I bet Jake is having a bloody good laugh, wherever e is. BUMFIT. Oh come ON!"

Silas, you look a bit of an ignorant idiot for this comment.

All the sheep counting numbers of the style "yan, tan, tethera" are related to Welsh numbers, which shows they are from a Cumbrian/Brythonic language related to Welsh.

For example, "bumfit" is like the Welsh word for 15, pymtheg.

Plus the fact that variations of these sheep counting numbers appear in various 19th century publications, probably with no knowledge of each other. Are you going to tell me this Jake person is over 200 years old? Do your research first, Silas.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 05:18 PM

The Celtic base-20 number system was also used in Gaulish and was adopted from that into French.

Gaelic counts in 20s too. I don't think there's any Celtic language that didn't use base-20 in some way. Some Teutonic languages (English, Danish) have irregular formations for 11-19 but they don't count in 20s beyond that.

Burushaski? geezabrek. Have you looked at Burushaski syntax? Not bloody likely.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Lady Nancy
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 10:31 AM

Interesting thread... I started a 3-part harmony group back in the 80s called Yan Tan Thether and it became Cockersdale.... (after I left)

I've got a copy of the version of the Lincolnshire Shepherd where we got our name from with a bit of an explanation at the foot of the manuscript about how the counting system works. Can I upload bitmaps or gifs?

LN


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Snuffy
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 10:45 AM

Bitmap, Yan-a-bitmap, Tan-a-bitmap, ...


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,PMC
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 09:30 AM

My Yorkshire Granny recited this to us kids calling it 'The Irish Twenty'!! (my spelling from her pronunciation)
Een teen tethera fethera fimp
Slater later colder dolder dink
Eentik teentik tetherdik fetherdik bumtik
Eenabump Teenabump tetherabump fetherabump najig!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Sue Allan
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM

The version I know seems to be the Borrowdale one:
Yan, tyan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, overa, dovera, dick, yan-a-dick, tyan-a-dick, tethera-dick, methera-dick, bumfit, yan -a=bumfit, tyan-a-bumfit, tethera-bumfit, giggot.

I learnt it from a book on Cumbrian folklore etc. And every other source I have seen in Cumbrian literature, including dialect books,quotes someone else quoting this. As far as I can tell it's not been used in LIVING memory for about 200 years!

I guess it must have been really used at some point(?) - but it seems to have come down to us essentially as an antiquarian linguistic curiosity. I would love to know if anyone actually knows of someone who has heard someone ACTUALLY USE IT, rather than reading or hearing about it from someone else. A little challenge ...


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Audrey
Date: 03 May 10 - 03:29 PM

In reply to Sue Alan, my grandfather taught me the Lincolnshire version when I was a 5 year old in 1935 and i still remember it and yes it was used.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 04 May 10 - 02:46 PM

The one I learned in Gunnerside (Swaledale) was slightly different to that given in Wikipedia:

Yan
Tan
Tether
Mether
Pip
Sitra
Litra
Hobra
Dobra
Dick
Yanadick
Tanadick
Tetheradick
Metheradick
Bumfit
Yanbumfit
Tanbumfit
Tetherabumfit
Metherabumfit
Jigget

Which, although I was taught it by an old bloke in Gunnerside about 50 years ago, sounds closer to the Westmorland version given in Wikipedia than it does to the Swaledale version.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 May 10 - 03:10 PM

What a wonderful and fascinating thread for anyone interested (as I am) in languages and language.

My favourite of the various versions posted here so far has to be the Borrowdale one - I particularly like "pimp"...


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Tig
Date: 04 May 10 - 06:06 PM

http://www.lakelanddialectsociety.org/counting_sheep.htm

Sorry, no clicky.

This gives the varients of counting over a wide range of places. Only just found it - well worth a look.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Janet Elizabeth
Date: 28 May 12 - 06:30 PM

What a lovely thread. I recently learned Jake's song along with his intro and am really sad to learn he made up Molly. Regarding the counting, I'd like to add two comments :

As Welshwoman says pump (5) is pronounced pimp, that makes it related to the Yan, Tan... versions that contain pimp (5)

According to what I know as Grimm's Law, p and f are often swapped between languages (as are b and v, g and w) so what struck me there was that the Welsh pump for 5 seems related to not only pimp and pip, but also fip, the German funf and also, after a little hardening of the last consonant, the english five (?)


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 29 May 12 - 06:09 AM

With a time-lag

Gaelic counts in 20s too. I don't think there's any Celtic language that didn't use base-20 in some way. Some Teutonic languages (English, Danish) have irregular formations for 11-19 but they don't count in 20s beyond that.

(Kipling): Five & Twenty ponies
(Nursery rhymes) Four & Twenty blackbirds
(King James Bible) Three-score years & ten.

Yes, English does sometimes use base 20.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 29 May 12 - 06:54 AM

Nigel: Not to mention 20 shillings in a pound! Or hundredweight in a ton.

Interestingly, in the late 70s my mum was a bit curious about the "funny lookin' number stuff" I was messing about with. So I thought I'd have a go at explaining Octal and Hexadecimal to her, expecting it would be tough for her to grasp.

She immediately said "oh, the's nowt to it. It's nobbut stoans te' 'undredweight an' ahnces te' pahnds, i'n't it?"

When you think about imperial measurements, anyone who can work with the full range should have no problems at all with changing bases...there are 5 (arguably 6, even more if you include obsolete units like Cloves, Tods and Sacks) "normal" shifts in base just going through the imperial weight system.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Eats acorns
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 12:43 AM

Has anyone had a look at the basque millers numbering system? It seems to be based on multiples of twenty also. Three score years and ten? Scoring, scouring ogham?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,William
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 01:13 PM

My dad taught us a version which goes:
een, tee, tethera, fethera, fip, zikkara, zakkara, co, debra, dick
eendick, teendick, thetherdick, fetherdick, abumpit, eenabumpit, teenabumpit, tetherabumpit, fetherabumpit, agiggit

We all thought it was wonderful, it beat abracadabra hands down.
I think he learnt it from his mother who was from Durham way.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 01:31 PM

Mr Jack Campin didn't believe my theory, and asked me to give him a break, which I have done. During that five year break since 2008, professor Ilija Casule of Macquarie University, Australia, has come up with very convincing evidence that Burushaski is an Indo-European language of the now extinct Anatolian group. Not much is known about those languages, but on Wikipedia's list of numbers in various languges, one to four in Hittite is: as, dan, teries, meyawes. I have revised my theory a little, and now believe that "yan, tan, tethera" stems from an ealier Indo-European invasion from the Anatolian/Balkans region before the Brythonic celts, although it has clearly been strongly influenced by them. Well, I'll stick my head above the parapet, my name is John Merry, I'm a languages graduate (sorry, not linguistics), and I think that professor Casule is right on the mark. Yan, tan tethera, Hittite and Burushaski all have a common, Anatolian origin. The floor is yours, Jack.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 01:39 PM

I wrote to Professor Colin Renfrew at Cambridge University, who is both a top archaeologist and a very proficient linguist. He reckons that yan, tan, tethera is Pre-Celtic, but also Proto-Anatolian-Celtic, i.e. a very early form of Indo-European. It was from an earlier migration (before the historical Celts)so I was partially right, but he put me right about the Hittites, they only date to 1,600 BC. So I think that that is pretty definitive; I certainly don't want to argue with the prof!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 08:30 PM

We know from Heroditus the Eastern Kelts were on the Danube about his time, so there is a firm link to them in the Anatolian thesis - although it's only actually a waypoint, you need to be certain from Akkadian there's no earlier root. Robert Graves, I think it was, came up with an argument that the Celts were split by the Israelites in the time of the Kings, one of the tribes the Kings defeated (and split) being quite close to one of the Celts other tribal names. His argument is the other half went west along the south coast of the Med before crossing at Gib, forming the Southern Celts - which include the Welsh. If so, then for your Anatolian argument to hold, then there should be no trace in the Welsh - but the opposite is true. It's in Welsh but not in Scots.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 05:01 AM

We have a video about the hand knitters of Dent in the Western Yorkshire Dales. They used the same counting system for counting the rows of knitting.

At last a reference that justifies the name of the forthcoming textile related project.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 02 Jan 18 - 04:55 AM

New discoveries are coming in all the time, and several theories need to be revised. Firstly, genetics have proved beyond all reasonable doubt that all of the "modern" Indo-European languages stem from the steppe within the last 4,OOO years, so any Anatolian migration would have had to have happened much earlier. Secondly, when I first made these posts, like most people in Britain I was completely unaware of the existence of early Welsh historical records and the writings of Alan Wilson, Baram Blackett and Adrian Gilbert. To cut a long story short, they record that Brutus of Troy travelled by sea with a large army, and settled in Britain around 117O BC, based on the Brut Tysilio and other writings. At that time, the people of Troy spoke Luwian which is an Anatolian language closely related to Hittite. Alan Wilson has received a fair amount of academic flak trying to discredit him; all I can say is that I believe "yan, tan, tethera" to have had an Anatolian origin, and that this is entirely consistent with his claim.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 02 Jan 18 - 06:43 AM

Guest: Theoriser:
What early texts are you referring to in this?

Is it anything earlier than Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the kings of England"?

If so, a link would be helpful

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jan 18 - 11:34 AM

I can't see any variants that are using a 20 based system. The numbers after 10 are clearly based on the numbers 1-9, which is just the same as our regular counting system.

The relationship with the Hittite counting is quite impressive but not conclusive.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Gutcher
Date: 02 Jan 18 - 11:40 AM

In my gutchers day a shepherds work was counted as looking after 640 yowes ie. 32 score=a hirsel, now hirsel had two meanings             {1} The work of one shepherd.                                        {2} The area of ground required to sustain these 640 yowes. This of course being variable depending on the quality of feed available in different locations.
He never mentioned any method of counting, other than the score.

Any take on where the word--hirsel--comes from, and was it unique to Scotland?.

In a recent advert for a shepherd he was to herd 2500 yowes and 60 hill cattle, quite a change in 70 years!


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 04:07 AM

The Concise Scots Dictionary gives "hirsel" as in use in Scotland as you state from at least the late 14thC. It claims it derives from the Middle English "hirsill" and Old Norse "hirosla" meaning "safe keeping".


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: peteaberdeen
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 12:04 PM

here in cumbria everyone is familiar with these words -in fact they are inlaid in the pavement in cockermouth. however, you won't find the word 'yan' in the scrabble dictionary (we've had to insert it in our pub) amazing when you some of the extraordinary foreign words contained in there.

(must get round to changing my name on here seeing as i came yam to cockermouth about overa years back, marras)


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: peteaberdeen
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 12:32 PM

i just tried to change my name and found it is not as straightforward as i recall. or am i just being dim?


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 02:42 PM

In answer to your question Nigel, as far as I know Geoffrey of Monmouth's writings were based on "Brut Tysilio", the Chronicle of Saint Tysilio and "Brut y Tywysogion", the Chronicle of the Kings and probably one or two others as well. If you wanted exact details, you'd need to ask an expert on the history of Wales.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 02:46 PM

Apologies, Tywysogion is princes, not kings.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: GUEST,Theoriser
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 03:47 PM

I've just had a look at the numbers in Old Welsh, two is "dou", in Modern Welsh it's dau; there's nothing like tan, tyan or the other variants. In no other branches of the Indo-European languages apart from Anatolian does four begin with a letter m.


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Subject: RE: Yan Tan Tethera - more words in the count?
From: rich-joy
Date: 17 Feb 18 - 08:34 PM

Just come across this beautiful and ancient Welsh Lullaby on YouTube,

which here includes the shepherd's counting.

With possibly 7th century origins, it is here sung by Ffynnon and Lynne Denman and it is titled "Dinogad's Smock (Pais Dinogad)" :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBl7ZFI-QP8

ENJOY!!

Cheers,
Rich-Joy


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