Germanic nursery rhyme
Posted: 17 December 2013 12:25 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  3788
Joined  2007-02-26

In a discussion elsewhere about the origins of most English words, I mentioned that technical terms are more likely to be from Latin or Greek, so papers in journals are likely to have a lower percentage of Germanic words than, say, Mary had a little lamb.

On further reflection this appears to have been quite a good example. MHALA is almost entirely Germanic, particularly in the first half.

Mary had a little lamb,
whose fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day
which was against the rule.

It made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,
but still it lingered near,

And waited patiently about,
till Mary did appear.

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
the eager children cry.

“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
the teacher did reply.

Of 89 words, 15 are non-Germanic, of which 5 are instances of a proper noun coming to us from Hebrew via Latin.

That’s pretty Germanic.

I was quite surprised by the etymologies of eager and cry.