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Inappropriate Rhymes

TerritorialMale • • • Friday, March 24, 2006
Surely times have changed and so has language with it. As cultures mix and new relationships forge, people have learnt that knowledge of languages in its pure form is not sufficient. There are terms existing in one language but without an equivalent in another. Thus the term is adopted and overtime through widespread usage and minor modifications, it officially becomes part of the adopting tongue. The phenomenon is not limited to a specific region or language. All major languages come under its influence - moreso in multi-lingual gatherings. The internet has sped the process up even further. The internet is responsible for virtually erecting an apparent language barrier even between opposing generations. The X, Y and Z generations have developed their own lingua franca. So, while one generation can understand the meanings of LOL, ROFL and LMIAO, another generation cannot make head or tail of it. This was just an example of the de facto language of the virtual generation. Similar examples can be weaned from reality as well. The World's most popular language is not what it used to be. New terms are added every day, few terms become redundant and some evolve new meanings. Is it good or is it bad? Well then! There is always two sides to a coin isn't there?

That brings me to my point. While a particular expression may have had an innocent meaning in one generation, the same term today, may have sexual intonations associated with it. Everyday, little children in India learn

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
Where have you been?
I've been to London to see the Great Queen.
Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat...

Now my question is. Is that Nursery Rhyme relevant anymore? I have posed this question to many. While a few have evinced concern, a few have remained conservative. The main reason promulgated by the latter group is that the children are too young to know the implications of those terms. I do not agree with this thought. Children pick up words faster than a speeding bullet and in any case terms associated with the above rhymes is no longer appropriate in polite conversation today. What about the teachers teaching them? There is always an awkward moment in the family whenever my little niece is being taught to say them. It is silent but quite evident.

Let us look at a few more which are rife with obvious sexual innuendoes.

Ding, dong bell,
Pussy in the well,
Who put her in?
Little Tommy thin....

Wee Willie Winkie,
Runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs,
In his night gown...

Who can forget the famous Jack and Jill, etc, etc, etc.... The following aren't so bare-faced but not unambiguous either.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row...

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curd and whey,
There came a big spider....

There are umpteen examples we can refer to. The English have already decided to rewrite toddler's rhymes and new syllabi is being proposed (or may already be in effect). Why are we lagging behind? While there's much hullabaloo in Parliament about changes in the history syllabus, is anything being done to revamp our primeval Primary Education system. It is time someone gave it a serious thought. Afterall, a whole new generation is at stake here.

Times have changed. Language has changed. Please change my niece's Rhyme Book too?
• • •2:20 AM• Permalink2 comments



Blogger hutumthumo said...
great post. thought provoking to say the least. thanks
10:13 AM  
Blogger Gati said...
I have an idea - why dont you write some new ones?
You can do one of two things: one - write fresh contemporary ones; or two - this would be more interesting - try rewriting the old ones just squeezing out the innuendos.
My guess would be that it is like salt in food: you cannot take it out if it is already there. Try unsalted stuff, it is just bland.
But try it - and put a few on the blog too. Will be fun.
11:39 PM  

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