5.09.2007

Home again home again

...lickety split?

...jiggety jig?

Lickety split immediately came to mind, but Josh suggested jiggety jig, and suddenly I was afraid that the entire lickety split ending was a figment of my imagination. But, no, it isn't, it just seems less well-documented than jiggety jig.

"Home again home again jiggety jig" comes from the "To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig" nursery rhyme.

I have no idea where "home again home again lickety split" originates. I thought maybe it was "This Little Piggy Went to Market," but I don't think it is. Going home in "This Little Piggy" is connected to crying "wee wee wee" all the way there, not to any lickety splitness. Anyone know?

I'm sorry that I haven't posted anything more substantial lately. I've been a bit distracted by things like this and my paying job--you know how it is--and, of course, nursery rhymes. Ah, to be little again and have someone read nursery rhymes to me! I'll just have to find some little kid to read them to instead. (Although some are at least a little bit disturbing. Nonetheless, please disown me if you ever find me reading this to any little kid! "And brightened Miss Muffit's whole day," my foot!)

6 comments:

alg's dad said...

There are about 200 times as many google hits for "home again, home again, jiggedy jog" as for "home again, home again, lickety split." So it seems possible that all the "lickety split" hits are to people who got confused about the lyrics of "To Market, To Market," and thought that it read "lickety split" instead of "jiggedy jog." I didn't go down through all 108 "lickety split" hits, but I noticed that none of the first 10 were to an original source, they were all just quoting it as something well known, while a couple of the first 10 "jiggedy jog" hits were to websites that had the words to nursery rhymes. This fact seems to support my theory. It would be especially convincing if that were true for all 108 "lickety split" hits.

ALG said...

Hmmm.... So all those people, including me, made up the lickety split ending? I suppose it's possible.

Josh thought it was "jiggedy jig," but when I Googled it, it turns out that "jiggedy jog" is more common, but both exist. And, to further confuse things, it's spelled both "jiggedy" and "jiggety."

These two versions of "To Market, To Market" are very different from each other, actually, which is a bit surprising:

Jiggety Jog: http://www.amherst.edu/~rjyanco94/literature/mothergoose/rhymes/tomarkettomarkettobuyafatpig.html

Jiggety Jig and Jiggety Jog: http://www.rhymes.org.uk/a105-to-market.htm

alg's dad said...

I should have said "home again, home again, jiggety jig" in my first post, that's the one that has 20,000 google hits. "...jiggedy jig," "...jiggety jog" and "...jiggedy jog" have far fewer hits, only about 500, 500, and 100, respectively. I'm not sure why that seems to be inconsistent with your statement that "jiggedy jog" is more common. In any case, I think all versions of the nursery rhyme (including the two you linked to) have both "jiggety jig" rhyming with "pig" and "jiggety jog" rhyming with "hog," though people seem to quote the "jiggety jig" line more often.

As to how likely it is that all those people made up the "lickety split" ending--I just did some research. I tried comparing the number of hits for plausibly misquoted nursery rhymes (and similar doggerel) to the correctly quoted words. It turns out to vary tremendously, depending on which misquote you look at, but 1 in 200 in well within the normal range. If you compare "catch a lion by the toe" to "catch a tiger by the toe," it is only one in 5000, i.e. 4 hits compared to 20,000. But if you look at "'gave her father forty whacks' 'gave her mother forty one'" vs. "'gave her mother forty whacks' 'gave her father forty one'", the ratio is almost exactly 1! (Each one gives a little over 5000 hits.) The great majority of people just don't remember which it is, and guess at random. But I did find a case that gives a ratio similar to your case. If you compare "one horned one eyed flying purple people eater" to "one eyed one horned flying purple people eater," then the ratio is 1 to 100, i.e. 7 hits vs. 700 hits.

Granted, that's not exactly the same, since it is only changing the order of the words, rather than changing the words themselves. We need to think of a case where there is a nonsense phrase that sounds similar to another well known nonsense phrase. Can you think of any examples?

BZ said...

Is the correct spelling of "tuffet" trademarked or something?

ALG said...

BZ-- Hah hah hah! I didn't even notice that. That's funny. And makes me even less likely to ever read it to anybody.

ALG's dad-- I only thought "jiggety jog" / "jiggedy jog" (conflate the two, please, since they sound the same when you say them) was more common than "jigget/dy jig" because one or two people seemed to imply that that's how they knew it. Pig rhyming with "jig" (no "jiggety") and hog rhyming with "jog." Nothing as scientific as you came up with!

I am now convinced that "lickety split" is just a figment of my imagination--and a 108 other people's! It doesn't sound so much like "jiggety jig" to me, but I suppose it is a nonsense phrase with the same number of syllables and same rhythm.

(I think some of the words in this comment are misspelled, but I'm too tired to check.)

alg's dad said...

"Lickety split" is not really a nonsense phrase. It means "quickly" in any context, not just in one nursery rhyme. ("Jiggety jig" and "jiggety jog" also mean "quickly" in the context of this nursery rhyme, but they are not used regularly outside this context, though of course "jig" and "jog" by themselves are regular words having connotations of quickness.) So it is understandable that people would substitute "lickety split" for "jiggety jig."

Substituting plausible sounding nonsense syllables for other nonsense syllables in song lyrics turns out to be quite common on the internet. For example, there are 420 hits for "twiddley diddley dee" and 33 hits for "fiddley diddley dee", a ratio of 13 to 1. That's for these exact spellings. You get smaller numbers of hits substituting "dum" for "dee" or "twiddledy" for "twiddley", etc.

But I haven't yet thought of an exact test case, i.e. substituting for a nonsense phrase a similar sounding phrase that means something appropriate in the context.