Wednesday, 5 January 2011

ABC Wednesday Y is for Yan, Tan, Tethera

Yan, tan, tethera is a counting rhyme used by shepherds in different parts of England to count sheep. There are dialectic variations but the rhyming pattern remains consistent.

The Lincolshire version for numbers 1 to 20 runs Yan, Tan, Tethera, Pethera, Pimp, Sethera, Lethera, Hovera, Covera, Dik, Yan-a-dik, Tan-a-dik, Tethera-dik, Pethera-dik, Bumfit, Yan-a-bumfit, Tan-a-bumfit, Tethera-bumfit, Pethera-bumfit, Figgot.  It’s pleasing to feel these words roll off the tongue and good to know that English dialects and accents have not been completely homogenised.


You can read more about the origins and differences here.

I wonder how the shepherds involved in the following clip counted their many sheep?

Thank You to the Youthful Denise Nesbitt and her energetic team as they Yomp through the alphabet to host this weekly meme. Please click here to see more Ys.

16 comments:

  1. I thouroughly enjoyed the video and learning these new words for counting sheep.

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  2. These are quirky and perhaps quaint words. Fun!
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  3. Fabulous, Janice. I've never heard of this kind of sheep-counting before. I guess I thought they did one-two-three, or ten-twenty-thirty.
    The video is great. I've seen part of it before but I love to watch sheepdogs at work. They are so wonderful.
    Many people around here have border collies who are seriously underworked, poor puppies.
    When I was a teenager, we had a Scotch collie who herded cats for lack of anything better to do. We still had one of the cats when Wag died, and she never left the yard again because he wasn't there to come after her and bring her home.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  4. Fabulous, Janice. I've never heard of this kind of sheep-counting before. I guess I thought they did one-two-three, or ten-twenty-thirty.
    The video is great. I've seen part of it before but I love to watch sheepdogs at work. They are so wonderful.
    Many people around here have border collies who are seriously underworked, poor puppies.
    When I was a teenager, we had a Scotch collie who herded cats for lack of anything better to do. We still had one of the cats when Wag died, and she never left the yard again because he wasn't there to come after her and bring her home.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  5. What a fun and interesting post for the day, Janice! Really enjoyed reading this one and even better, I learned something new and that's always the best! Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!

    Sylvia

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  6. Interesting info about the dialects. I wonder what the root of these words are Viking (Scandinavian, Anglo Saxon Celtic?

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  7. Thanks Janice! I like this rhyme-interesting and strange words. I think the kids would love it as any mention of the word bum is the funniest thing in the world! Maybe I had better not though!

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  8. A unique Y, the words do run lusciously around the tongue.
    Years ago at the information desk someone rang up from the London and asked me for the count possibly expecting/hoping we all have that knowledge here. He was short on time. Not possible for me to go and look it up (before the days of wikepedia, how did we manage,LOL) The leaving presentation speech to a ex pat Cumbrian, where it was going to be used, was imminent. I only managed to drag up yan to pimp from the back of my mind.
    I'm off to find some sheep now, love those lights.

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  9. This was so new to me - what fun to learn - thank you!

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  10. A counting rhyme? I will follow the link to find out more!

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  11. Just came back to view the video clip, didn't have time before. That's absolutely incredible! What will they think of next. Brilliant idea. But great applause for the shepherd and dog who did all the work!
    I love watching sheepdog trials. Goodness! Can those dogs run!

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  12. I have never heard of that counting syustem - it looks complicated to me. I have seen that video before though, and I love it every time!

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  13. Very interesting and entertaining post, thank you. I like learning to count to 10 in different languages. :-)

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  14. To count sheeps I prefer my personal method 1, 2, 3, etc. to fall asleep ! What names !!
    The video is extraordinary ! These adult little boys must have had a lot of fun and a lot of phantasy too !

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  15. Five for a pimp? Any connection?

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  16. Dear Janice,

    Meow! Cool video. Clever dogs, I am forced to admit.

    What a fun post! I never knew that there were different counting words for counting sheep in English. Those words must be very old. Are they really English though? (ChrisJ asked a similar question, what could be their root?)

    Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my Y-post. It warms the heart. Give your cat Winston a nose-tap from me!

    Purrs,
    Sara Cat

    For the benefit of other readers:
    Sara Cat's ABC-Wd-rd7-Y

    Take a peek at my X-post too, if you have the time:

    Sara Cat's ABC-Wd-rd7-X

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