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Why 'in a pear-tree?'

DigiTrad:
AUSSIE TWELVE DAYS OF XMAS
THE TWELVE BUGS OF CHRISTMAS
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (PARODY)
THE TWELVE DAYS OF MARXMAS
THE TWELVE THANKYOU NOTES OF CHRISTMAS
TWELVE DAYS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL)
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (PC)


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MGM·Lion 21 Feb 11 - 02:01 PM
BobKnight 21 Feb 11 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 21 Feb 11 - 02:06 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Feb 11 - 02:09 PM
G-Force 21 Feb 11 - 02:17 PM
RTim 21 Feb 11 - 02:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Feb 11 - 02:33 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Feb 11 - 02:37 PM
Reinhard 21 Feb 11 - 02:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Feb 11 - 02:58 PM
Tootler 21 Feb 11 - 05:42 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Feb 11 - 07:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Feb 11 - 07:10 PM
YorkshireYankee 21 Feb 11 - 09:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Feb 11 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,c.g. 22 Feb 11 - 04:00 AM
GUEST, Sminl 22 Feb 11 - 04:09 AM
Monique 22 Feb 11 - 04:40 AM
OlgaJ 22 Feb 11 - 04:54 AM
gnomad 22 Feb 11 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,Desi C 22 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 22 Feb 11 - 08:50 AM
Cool Beans 22 Feb 11 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,PeterC 22 Feb 11 - 12:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 01:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 02:02 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 02:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 02:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 03:29 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Feb 11 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Grishka 22 Feb 11 - 05:05 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Feb 11 - 05:09 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Grishka 22 Feb 11 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Grishka 22 Feb 11 - 07:02 PM
Monique 22 Feb 11 - 07:39 PM
Dorothy Parshall 22 Feb 11 - 07:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 08:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 11 - 09:07 PM
gnomad 23 Feb 11 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Desi C 23 Feb 11 - 07:35 AM
Lighter 23 Feb 11 - 10:09 AM
Monique 23 Feb 11 - 12:51 PM
Lighter 23 Feb 11 - 12:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Feb 11 - 01:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Feb 11 - 04:19 PM
Lighter 23 Feb 11 - 05:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Feb 11 - 05:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Feb 11 - 03:52 PM
Lighter 24 Feb 11 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Feb 11 - 11:50 PM
GUEST,Roly Scales 22 Dec 14 - 01:29 PM
Joe_F 22 Dec 14 - 06:37 PM
MMario 22 Dec 14 - 09:27 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Dec 14 - 11:00 AM
Steve Gardham 23 Dec 14 - 01:47 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Dec 14 - 03:30 PM
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Jim Carroll 23 Dec 14 - 04:42 PM
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Subject: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:01 PM

Why is that 1st Day Of Xmas partridge in a pear-tree? I man, why a pear, particularly, rather than an apple or a plum or a cherry? Is it just for the alliteration ~~

~~~ or could it be anything in the way of a hidden pun or association with the French "perdrix", which sounds like "pear-tree" and means "partridge"? This just feels suggestive to me; but how could such a fusion of meanings have occurred ~ if they did?

If you see what I mean...

Belated wassail. Premature Happy Easter. Whatever!


♬♩~Michael~♪♫


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: BobKnight
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:02 PM

Alliteration!!


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:06 PM

apple tree doesn't scan

orange tree doesn't scan and it doesn't grow in Scotland, home of the song.

peach tree is too hard to say   ch-tr

watermelons don't grow on trees. neither do canteloupes

That leaves us with pear. Also partridge and pear are alliterative. The perfect choice!


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:09 PM

Well, I allowed for 'alliteration' at end of my first para.

But is that really all? What about the 'perdrix' connection?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: G-Force
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:17 PM

According to my French teacher at school (1960's), who never lied, the original words were 'a partridge or a perdrix'.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: RTim
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:24 PM

Because - The Pear Tree is a great Hook Norton pub just down the road from the brewery!!

http://www.hooky-pubs.co.uk/pubs/location_maps/pear_tree.html


Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:33 PM

I'll drink to that!


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:37 PM

Ah, G-Force, thank you. Whatever truth of matter, the same connection had clearly occurred to your French teacher. But: a piece of post-hoc folk etymology, or could he/she actually produce evidence of its ever having been sung thus, I wonder?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Reinhard
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:55 PM

Wikipedia says:

It has been suggested by a number of sources over the years that the pear tree is in fact supposed to be perdrix, French for partridge and pronounced per-dree, and was simply copied down incorrectly when the oral version of the game was transcribed. The original line would have been: "A partridge, une perdrix."

Some misinterpretations have crept into the English-language version over the years. The fourth day's gift is often stated as four "calling" birds but originally was four "colly" birds, using another word for a blackbird. The fifth day's gift of gold rings refers not to jewelry but to ring-necked birds such as the ring-necked pheasant; or to "five goldspinks" - a goldspink being an old name for a Goldfinch. When these errors are corrected, the pattern of the first seven gifts all being birds is restored. There is a version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that is still sung in Sussex in which the four calling birds are replaced by canaries.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:58 PM

Twelve Days of Christmas

The king sent his lady on the first Yule day,
A *papingo-aye;
Wha learns my carol and carries it away?

The king sent his lady on the second Yule day,
Three partridges, papingo-aye;
Wha learns my carol and carries it away?

etc.

Obviously a *papingo-aye (a peacock) doesn't work in the version now sung.
Nor does another version, My lady's lap dog.

From Alice B. Gomme, 1894-98, The traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland

I think the 'pun' idea is incorrect, but perhaps others can find some weight to it. There doesn't seem to be any such indication in the UK rhymes.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 05:42 PM

The change to "calling birds" must be relatively recent as I am sure I learnt "colly birds" in my childhood.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 07:01 PM

Gomme (1894-98) has:
partridge
turtle doves
French hens
colly birds
gold rings
geese
swans
maids
drummers
pipers
ladies
lords.

Gomme suggests that the song originated with the Twelve Days of Yule, an important mid-winter feast. Events occurring during those days were used to fortell the events of the future twelve months
(Keary, Outlines of Primitive Belief).
The song devolved into the Christmas game, and various forfeits were involved in the celebrations.

Gomme also gives the version of "Twelve Huntsmen with Horns."

Ring-necked pheasants were imported from China. I haven't checked for their first use in England.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 07:10 PM

Ring-neck pheasants in England quite early, brought by Normans and possibly the Romans.

I can't find that any version demands seven birds, but there may have been one.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 09:01 PM

I remember being fascinated at a John Roberts and Tony Barrand concert during the 80s at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when/where they explained that The 12 Days of Christmas had once been a "macaronic" song (i.e. a song sung in two languages), and that the line had originally been (as Reinhard quotes from Wikipedia, above) "a partidge, une perdrix". It particularly makes sense to me when you realise that the "e" on the end of "une" is pronounced as its own syllable, making "une" a two-syllable word (something like "ooh-na"). I can see how "ooh-na pare-dreex" could so easily become the mondegreen "in a pear tree"...


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Subject: Lyr. Add: La Perdriole
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 11:18 PM

An interesting point is that no English version has ever used the words une perdrix or une perdriole for partridge.

A children's song of the same type, and perhaps derived from the English "Twelve Days of Christmas", is La Perdriole, or Les douze mois de l'année, a folk song in Canada as well as France.
The tune is frequently cited as French for "Twelve Days of Christmas" but it is much revised in the commonly sung version.

Lyr. Add: La Perdriole
"Les douze mois de l'année"

Au premier mois de l'année,
Que donn'rai-je à ma mie?
Un-e perdrio-le, Qui vole dans les bois.

Au deuxième mois de l'année
Que donn'rai-je à ma mie?
Deux tourterelles,
Une perdriole
Que vole dans les bois.

Au troisième mois de l'année
...trois ramiers au bois...

Au quatrième mois de l'année
...Quat' canards volant en l'air...

Au cinquième mois de l'année
...Cinq lapins grattant la terre...

Au sixiè mois de l'année
...Six lièvr's aux champs...

Au septième mois de l'année
...Sept chiens courants...

Au huitième mois de l'année
...Huit moutons blancs...

Au neuvième mois de l'année
...Neuf vach's à lait...

Au dixième mois de l'année
...Dix bouefs au pré...

Au onzième mois de l'année
...Onze beaux garçons...

Au douzième mois de l'année
...Douze demoiselles gentilles et belles...

from http://www.chansons-net.com/Tine/E306.html

Many variants-

La Perdriole
As sung by Les Charbonniers de l'Enfer,
French Canadian;
(to be posted later, but one verse for comparison)

C'que j'donnerai à ma mie
Au premier jour de mai
Deux geais bleus couvant leurs oeufs
Une perdriole qui vole dans les bois
Une perdriole qui va, qui vient, qui vole


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,c.g.
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 04:00 AM

Do partridges, in fact, roost in trees of any kind?


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST, Sminl
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 04:09 AM

Useful info: Twelve Days of Christmas


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Monique
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 04:40 AM

I didn't post anything because I couldn't find an earlier version of La perdriole than the one Q posted, i.e. not earlier than late 19th C. There's a very interesting chapter about that in Lina Eckenstein's Comparative Studies of Nursery Rhymes. Btw, she quotes this "papingo-aye" verse from "Chambers, Popular Rhymes of Scotland, 1870". She also says in the next chapter that she thinks that those songs all derived from The Song of the Creed (next chapter to the one I linked to). There's a version from Western France (1866) which is a sort of spoof version of the Song of the Creed. In "Mémoire de la chanson, 1200 chansons du Moyen-Âge à 1919" Martin Pénet, Omnibus, 2001, La Perdriole is listed on the 17th C. but no source is mentioned. There are two tunes to La perdriole, one that you can listen to on the midi link at the bottom of the page and another one if you go to "La perdriole" page on the link just below that. The tunes sound older than 19th C. to me. On The lied, Art Song and Choral Text site they mention it as "18th century, collected in the village of Arnay-Le-Duc by Charles Bigame (1825-1911)". The Occitan version mentioned by Lina Eckenstein can theorically seen there # 2923, it's said to have been collected before 1880 but from what I've found in a "Revue des langues romanes" it seems that the Oc version derives from the French.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: OlgaJ
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 04:54 AM

Funnily enough this came up in conversation at Christmas. According to a friend of mine who seems to know everything, or at least has lots of opinions, a 'pear tree' was a large tear-shaped (so possibly pear-shaped)birdcage. Don't know how true it is but it makes more sense than getting too accademic about the origins of the song. Didn't ask about the other eleven days though, they are probably much simpler than they sound as well.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: gnomad
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 05:14 AM

Good point, Guest CG, they are certainly terrestrial in habit and in nesting. Partridges can fly, but will often run away from danger as they are quite agile on the ground.

I don't know if they are able to grip a branch for roosting, and can't quickly find any reference to their doing so.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM

I haven't read all the resdponses yet but one I've seen have the right answer, It's nothing to do with Rhymes or French language, a 'pear tree' is in fact a sort of bell/pear shaped bird cage, simple as that ;)


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 08:50 AM

Yes a pear tree was the name given to a bird cage that was hung outside front doors (in the street) and was used to house various song birds such as a lark or similar. Very common in centuries gone by and has nothing to do with French or anything like it. I have actually seen one of these "gilded pear trees" albeit on the tele. in an antiques show.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Cool Beans
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 11:12 AM

The all-time greatest French-to-English mondegreen occurs in the tale of Cinderella whose slipper made of vair (fur) becamse a slipper made of verre (glass), pronounced the same but very different. Made the story much better, too.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 12:01 PM

[quote]
Partridges can fly, but will often run away from danger as they are quite agile on the ground.
[/quote]
The little buggers ususally run down the road away from the car instead of into the hedge. I have only ever seen one make any attempt to fly.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 01:36 PM

First, the link by guest Sminl. Several authors have written about the speculations in this link, but the material in "Hymns and Carols of Christmas" is the most complete that i have seen.
There is an attempt to relate the song to old practices, but no firm evidence is cited. We all enjoy speculations based on bits of knowledge which may be accurate in themselves but have mo connection with the lyrics or story in question.
The futile attempt to connect "Ring-around-the-Rosie" with the Plague comes to mind; this myth has been shown to be false but it lives on.

Partridge- La Perdrix européenne, Hungarian partridge, was released in North America and has established itself in some areas.
Here in southern Alberta, I have seen small flocks on the ground, and in the air, but not roosting. They have been absent lately, the winters or pesticides may have killed them off.

The bird-cage may be the 'pear-tree' answer (or the composer(s) may not have been familiar with the bird's habits).


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Subject: Lyr. Add: La Perdriole (Fr. Canadian)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 02:02 PM

Lyr. Add: La Perdriole
Lec Charbonniers de l'Enfer (Fr. Can.)

Un-e perdrio-le, Qui va qui vient qui vo-le
Un-e perdriole, Qui vo-le dans les bois.

C'que j'donnerai à ma mie
Au premier jour de mai
Deux geais bleus couvant leurs oeufs
Une perdriole qui vole dans les bois
Une perdriole qui va, que vient, qui vole (choeur)

C'que j'donnerai à ma mie
Au premier jour de mai
Trois corbeaux qui guettent sur un chicot
Deux geais bleus couvant leurs oeufs
Une perdriole qui vole dans les bois
Une perdriole qui va, qui vient, qui vole (Choeur)

...Quatre merles aaux yeux de perle...

...Cinq pigeons qui attendant l'avion...

...Six pic-bois picossant il y a...

Sept z'oies blanches...(soliste) venant du Nord (choeur)
Six pic-bois...(soliste) picossant il y a (choeur)
Cinq pigeons.....

http://www.acpo.on.ca/claude/charbon/chanson/perdrio1.htm


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Subject: Lyr. Add: La Perdriole (English)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 02:04 PM


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Subject: Lyr. Add: La Perdriole (English)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 02:22 PM

Lyr. Add: La Perdriole
Maud Karpeles, English translation

1
The first month of the year,
What shall I give my sweetheart?
O a little partridge
That rises, flies and flutters,
O a little partridge
A-flying in the woods.
2
The second month of the year,
What shall I give my sweetheart?
Two turtle-doves
And a little partridge
That rises, flies and flutters,
O a little partridge
A-flying in the woods.

Last stanza:
The twelfth month of the year,
What shall I give my sweetheart?
Twelve young girls in their castèl,
'Leven very fond young lads,
Ten milking cows,
Nine hornèd bulls,
Eight snow-white sheep,
Sev'n greyhound dogs,
Six running hares,
Five grey rabbits earth a-scratching,
Four wild ducks a-flying low,
Three wood-pigeons plump,
Two turtle-doves
And a little partridge
That rises, flies and flutters
O a little partridge
A-flying in the woods.

Copyright by Novello & Company Limited.
Maud Karpeles, ed., for the International Folk Music Council, Folk Songs of Europe, pp. 130-131, with musical score (composer not cited).

Partridge are a bird of the forest edge and adjacent grasslands or agricultural land, not the 'woods'.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 03:29 PM

Monique (in a hurry to a meeting)- pm'd me that Perrault wrote verre (glass) in 1697, and Balzac was the one who changed it to vair (fur) thinking verre was a mistake.

Charles Perrault, Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre; Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités: Contes de ma mère l'Oye; Paris, 1697.

Reverse that mondegreen, Cool Beans! Similar stories in Catalan, etc., also refer to glass.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 05:00 PM

A drift: mention of Perrault's collection, whose title translates as Tales Of My Mother The Goose, gives the lie to the widespread American belief, perpetuated by Burl Ives & others, that the original Mother Goose was one Mrs Elizabeth Goose of Boston who regaled her grandchildren with tales and rhymes from the old world; which is, alas, but a charming but untenable piece of what the late Peter Opie, the authority on children's lore, called 'folklore about folklore'.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 05:05 PM

Q, such statements on someone's way to a meeting should not be published. Cinderella was known to wear glass slippers long before Balzac lived. A minute of googling makes me assume that Balsac was the one to suggest the vair interpretation, which however has been challenged by many more recent scholars.

A truly ingenious quasi-mondegreen is Othello's background as a slave from Africa with all its psychological implications - the Italian original simply featured a man named Moro.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 05:09 PM

Grishka, that is exactly what Q said his informant told him. You are the one who appears to have missed the point thru haste.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 06:21 PM

Monique may add comment on La Perdriole when she get the time to do so.
My digressive post on the slipper was to indicate that the mondegreen might be wrong (Cool Beans may find something earlier than Perrault's telling of the story).


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 06:57 PM

MtheGM, you're right, I was mislead by the words "changed it to".


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:02 PM

... misled ...


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Monique
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:39 PM

@ Q: Thanks! Not much to add about La perdriole. The Lied, Art Song and Choral Text gives it as collected in Burgundy hence "eune perdriole que va, que vient, que vole" vs standard Fr. "une perdriole, qui va, qui vient, qui vole" but that doesn't mean it originated there.
Btw, partridges don't roost in trees, they do on the ground but they can fly, not high nor for long either but they do. A mother with her chicks runs, she'll even run in an opposite direction or fly a little pretending to be wounded to draw attention on her to try to save her brood.

About the Cinderella drift, Wiki page states that the oldest version is the one the Greek historian Strabo 1 century BC collected but a later Chinese version was written long before Perrault wrote his. The Catalan and Italian Wiki pages point that the girl having tiny feet made sense in Chinese culture and it was a Chinese prince's normal expectation. The Spanish article tells the Chinese story and the slippers were solid gold, not glass.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:39 PM

I have right here a "NEW twelve Days of Christmas" Twelve Lizards Leaping, by Jan Romero Stevens - for those in the SW USA! This wonderful new song starts with a "a quail in a paloverde tree".


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 08:38 PM

I can hear the lizards squeaking their objections and swishing their tails in anger.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 09:07 PM

Good! No 'native-born' paloverde trees in New Mexico.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: gnomad
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 03:23 AM

Shouldn't that be an aloe vera tree?

I know, "That ain't a tree, t'ain't native to the southwest USA, and anyway that ain't what the song says." All true, but it is never too early to start the corruption folk process going.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 07:35 AM

I'm amazed how many people on here are trying to find a French link and all manner of complicated theory. The reasn was recorded long ago and is much more simple and logical, As the trick or joke of the song is a suitor at first sending fairly normal gifts then increasingly weird as the song goes on. then a Partidge in a real pear TREE doesn't even fit (by the way the French perdee surely means a pheasant) It is of course a bird cage names a 'PEAR TREE CAGE' a very normal and common gift in Victorian times up to the early 1900's, if anyone remembers the BBC TV show Going For A song, a pear tree cage with mechanical singing bird featured in the opening titles.That is the only correct answer


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 10:09 AM

If you suspect a French or other obscure link it shows you're smarter.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Monique
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 12:51 PM

Though they belong to the same family, perdrix does mean partridge, a pheasant is "faisan"


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 12:58 PM

That sounds kind of like the word "paisan" in Italian. So that means there could be an Italian link too.

Disclaimer: The above statement is for humor purposes only. It is not intended to prove, refute, prevent, or deter any belief whatsoever.

Well, "deter" maybe.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 01:06 PM

Thanks, Lighter. But truth seldom prevails in 'folk'.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 04:19 PM

A sheet with "Twelve Days of Christmas," dated between 1774 and 1825, printer Angus of Newcastle, has the usual complement-
partridge, turtle doves, french hens, colley birds, gold rings, geese, swans, maids, drummers, pipers, ladies and lords.

Bodleian Collection, Harding B 25(378).
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm (and then use index).


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 05:04 PM

Thanks, Q. But if it was Wandering A(e)ngus, there's a good chance the song is a translation from Irish or Gaelic.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 05:30 PM

Now will someone post the original Babel-onian?


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Feb 11 - 03:52 PM

One explanation is that, along with the rest of the song, it's a kind of mondegreen, from a latin original about the Nativity, with this line coming from "parturit aperte", meaning "gave birth openly".


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Feb 11 - 05:39 PM

So he meant to send her a woman who was giving birth openly. Whoa.

Ya can't beat erudition, my friend. Ya just can't beat it.

(Glad you're back, McGrath!)


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Feb 11 - 11:50 PM

Q, thank you for the information about the broadside. It was neat to see an old edition of the song.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: GUEST,Roly Scales
Date: 22 Dec 14 - 01:29 PM

There are many traditional versions in France. I have a copy of a field recording of a one variant from Moncoutant, Deux-Sèvres, Western France. It begins:

Au premier mois de l'année,
Que donn'rai-je à ma mie?
Une perdriole, qui va, qui vient, qui vole,
Une perdriole qui vole dans les bois.

Au deuxième mois de l'année
Que donn'rai-je à ma mie?
Deux tourterelles,
Une perdriole, qui va, qui vient, qui vole,
Une perdriole qui vole dans les bois.

A partridge, which comes, which goes, which flies, which flies in the woods.
The song progresses through two turtle doves, three wood pigeons, four flying ducks, five rabbits scratching the earth, six hares in the field, seven dogs running, eight white sheep, nine milch cows, ten oxen in the meadow, eleven fine lads and twelve lovely fair maidens.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Joe_F
Date: 22 Dec 14 - 06:37 PM

Does "papingo-aye" really mean a peacock? It's not in the OED. I would have guessed, from the German "papagei" & the Spanish "papagayo", that it meant a parrot.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: MMario
Date: 22 Dec 14 - 09:27 PM

I believe the belief is now that the English version descended from the french versions; among other things evidently the English version is suppossed to predate patridges in England.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 11:00 AM

We used to have a somewhat eccentric music teacher in Liverpool who insisted that the books all got it wrong and it should be "fir" tree - so that's the way our class learned it.
I was always rather taken with the "perdrix" explanation
Jim Carroll
"Twelve days of Christmas" was adapted from similar New Years' or spring French carols, of which at least three are known, all featuring a partridge, perdriz or perdriole, as the first gift. The pear tree appears in only the English version, but this could also indicate a French origin. According to Iona and Peter Opie, the red-legged (or French) partridge perches in trees more frequently than the native common (or grey) partridge and was not successfully introduced into England until about 1770. Cecil Sharp observed that "from the constancy in English, French, and Languedoc versions of the 'merry little partridge,' I suspect that 'pear-tree' is really perdrix (Old French pertriz) carried into England"; and "juniper tree" in some English versions may have been "joli perdrix," [pretty partridge]. Sharp also suggests the adjective "French" in "three French hens", probably simply means "foreign".

In the northern counties of England, the song was often called the "Ten Days of Christmas", as there were only ten gifts. It was also known in Somerset, Dorsetshire, and elsewhere in England. The kinds of gifts vary in a number of the versions, some of them becoming alliterative tongue-twisters. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was also widely popular in the United States and Canada. It is mentioned in the section on "Chain Songs" in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature (Indiana University Studies, Vol. 5, 1935), p. 416.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 01:47 PM

Joe, this is completely off the top of my head but was not another name for a dandy or gaudily-dressed individual of Shakespeare's time a poppin-jay? Which surely must accord with 'papingo-aye' so parrot or peacock would fit the bill.

I'm more convinced by the French connection. Why would a cage become a tree? A pear-shaped cage yes, perhaps even with something resembling a tree branch inside it. Could it be possible that it became known as a pear tree because of the song?


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 03:30 PM

Wikipedia says popinjay=parrot. Fair enough.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 03:42 PM

Slight thread drift, but as the origin of the word 'parrot' is unknown
I've often wondered if somehow it derived from the older word 'pyot' the northern name for a magpie. The magpie does not have bright gaudy colours but it does have a striking plumage and is of a similar size to a parrot. Popinjay of course is obvious, the jay being somewhat gaudy in colour.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 04:23 PM

Q dates the Angus printing 1774-1825. Looking at the condition of my copy I would say about 1810. It is very clearly/neatly printed but uses the old seraph s which was beginning to die out about 1800. If the pear tree cages were 'Victorian' then the song must predate the use of the cages, hence my theory above. You now need an antiques expert to take this further.


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Subject: RE: Why 'in a pear-tree?'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 04:42 PM

Parrot
From the wonderful, 'The Insect that Stolr Butter - Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins
Jim Carroll

parrot [E16th] The original English term for a parrot was popinjay. This came from French papingay which came, via Spanish, from Arabic babbaga, which may have been formed in imitation of the bird's cry. The ending of the French word was altered to resemble the name of the bird, the jay. The change to a term for a conceited, vain person came in the early 16th century. The origin of the word parrot may lie in the tendency to give pet birds human names. The word, recorded in the early 16th century, could represent French Pierrot, a pet form of Pierre 'Peter'. People often address a pet bird as 'Pretty Polly', and the name Polly has been used to mean 'a parrot' since the early 19th century, while Poll is first recorded as a parrot's name in 1600.
The word parakeet (M16th) may be a similar formation based on the Spanish given name Pedro, also 'Peter'. Alternatively it may have come via Italian from a word meaning Tittle wig', referring to the bird's head plumage. See also moon


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