One of the greats

Iona Opie
Folklorist renowned for her work on nursery rhymes and children’s games who amassed a library of 20,000 books sold for £500,000

For those who don’t know, she and her husband Peter collected nursery rhymes, childrens’ playground games and so on. One of the surprising conclusions of which is just how permanent culture actually is.

For it isn’t so much that parents teach their children these things. Rather, that the slightly older children teach the slightly younger and so on down the generations. The transmission is happening every two or three years, again and again. And things like Ring a Ring o’ Roses have been doing that since the 1670s or so.

14 thoughts on “One of the greats”

  1. Solid Steve 2: Squirrels of The Patriots

    For it isn’t so much that parents teach their children these things. Rather, that the slightly older children teach the slightly younger and so on down the generations.

    Yes. One of the reasons why play – actual, outdoor, unsupervised, jumpers-for-goalposts – play is so valuable.

    Otoh, I have a tiny chap who came home from nursery the other day swearing like an Irish navvie. So there’s that too.

  2. “Folklorist renowned for her work on nursery rhymes and children’s games who amassed a library of 20,000 books sold for £500,000”

    Modern slavery!

  3. “The Lore & Language of Schoolchildren” – a totally fascinating book, especially comparing the rhymes we learned in Rochdale with those from other parts of the country.

  4. SS2: in Rochdale when I were a lad, there was (still is) a significant Ukrainian community, so when my sister went to nursery she started coming out with Slavic epithets when angry.

  5. I remember getting ‘The Lore & Language of Schoolchildren’ out of the library (when I got my grown up library ticket) about *muffled* years ago. Fascinating book.

  6. Yes, I was taught about sex by older boys.

    Of whom I later realized didn’t really know much more than I did. I’m sure the process dates to the Garden.

  7. “One of the surprising conclusions of which is just how permanent culture actually is.” I suspect that the Romano-British wouldn’t agree. Many of their grandchildren must have grown up reciting Anglo-Saxon nonsense.

  8. I have a client who runs a very successful business buying the rights for old children’s programs that have fallen out of favour. He then either updates (computer characters vs. drawn) or puts them out exactly as is, when the prior viewing audience become parents and want to show their children the shows from their childhood.

    Furthermore he licences the shows to numerous countries, because dubbing cartoons is easy (the mouths don’t move much). Finally, children’s programming is one of the few areas where people still buy media such as DVDs and lots of merchandise.

    My own three year old twins LOVE the same cheesy Scooby-Doo cartoons that I watched as a child. My son even says “Those darn kids” when I ask him who spilled the milk.

  9. Solid Steve 2: Squirrels of The Patriots

    David – MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD and DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE MUSKERHOUNDS should make a comeback

  10. DSL perhaps you’ve been watching the English dubbed version of Scooby-Doo but I’m pretty sure it’s those “PESKY” kids in the ones I’ve watched.

    Apropos of nothing apparently Scobby-Doo got his name when either, Hanna, or Barbera, heard Frank Sinatra warbling Dooby dooby doo, at the end of Strangers in the Night.

  11. @Solid Steve 2: Squirrels of The Patriots, October 27, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Yes. One of the reasons why play – actual, outdoor, unsupervised, jumpers-for-goalposts – play is so valuable.

    Some games I learnt in school playground:

    Eeny, meany, miny, mo…nigg__* by the toe ; rock-paper-scissors; tig/tag, British bull dogs, cricket – stumps drawn on wall; marbles; yo-yo; poker dice; top trumps; …….

    * none of knew want a nigg__ was – bird? mammal? reptile?

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