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Twinkle, twinkle: The hidden purpose behind the silliness of nursery rhymesNursery rhymes rely on meter and rhyme to stick into our memories. When we remember them, we do not remember just the words; we remember them in time, sometimes even with their pitch.

Before children acquire words and syntax, parents naturally talk to them in a particular style. In the late 1980s, psychologist Deborah Kemler-Nelson proved that mothers all over the world speak to their children differently than they speak to adults. She called this speaking style “motherese.” When speaking to babies, we speak slowly in a higher pitched voice and tend to repeat phrases. Similarly many nursery rhymes slow down the speaking process and include repetition to help children learn. When children learn to speak and later to read, they acquire what linguists call “phoneme awareness.” What does that mean? Well, we aren’t born with the sounds of language in our heads, but rather we learn what the discreet, separate parts of sounds are as we learn language. Children do not automatically know when one word starts and another begins.

(Would you believe an error is probably responsible for the name Mother Goose? Find out, here.)

Some child psychologists claim that nursery rhymes help children learn these discrete units sound in a language. Children between the ages of two and three are just learning how to form sentences. Since they do not always understand when one word ends and another begins, the meter of nursery rhymes helps them learn the dynamics of what will be their mother tongue. Think about “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Each syllable is separated and enunciated because of how the meter and tune work. Speech therapists also recommend reciting nursery rhymes to help children with speech delays accelerate their language acquisition.

English nursery rhymes, like The Cat and the Fiddle, Pattycake, and Solomon Grundy, date back to the early 1600s. Others, like Old Mcdonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and This Old Man, originated in the early 1900s. Of course, nursery rhymes are not limited to the English language. French, Russian, Chinese: most languages have some sort of rhyming songs for children. In fact, Brother John, the English nursery rhyme made famous by Charlie Brown, was translated from the French original, Frère Jacques.

(Why do so many fairy tales contain a character named “Jack?” We can clear that up for you, here.

People have speculated that nursery rhymes contain codes or were veiled political messages. A few of them, such as “Old King Cole” and “Mary had a Little Lamb,” may have been connected to real-life events, but for the most part, they are completely fictional, non-allegorical stories. “Mary had a Little Lamb” is based on a poem by Sarah Jospeha Hale about her neighbor Mary who had a pet lamb.

Do you remember the nursery rhymes of your childhood? What are your favorites?

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A. Yes. The IRS tax form 1040 has a refund section on Lines 66a through 67, which, when completed, will instruct the IRS where to send any refund from Line 66a. By both taxpayers signing the tax return, IRS receives the authority to forward, and the bank to accept, the refund as an automated clearinghouse credit to the account designated by the taxpayers. The fact that the refund is deposited to a single-name account should not create a liability for the bank.

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107 Comments

  1. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 24, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Ring Around the Rosy is about the Black Plague.

    Ring around the rosy = the purple lumps the Black Plague sufferers got
    A pocket full of posies = in their pockets people carried flowers that were supposed to keep away the plague.
    Ashes, ashes, we all fall down = so many people died that a lot of them were burned because there was no room or time to bury them.

    Creepy, huh?

    @Killa-King1:
    What?!?! I don’t understand a word you said!!

    Reply
  2. Killa-King1 -  June 4, 2012 - 8:47 am

    Dark+? meaning the Devil and next time don’t put you’re Name and LastName and age!

    Reply
  3. Killa-King1 -  June 4, 2012 - 8:44 am

    the Doctor is fixing the heart the doctor dont like the dark, a doctor that help’s the health to make it more stronger! it is the doctor from his tongue that eat a bunch of food also eats blood, from another. The Doctor that sits by him self and don’t like the weather but his own doctor office! creates files and creates exam from the body.
    Name:_______________ LastName:______________ Age:____
    Answer this question and see what happen when i mean the doctor!!!!!

    1.) tongue
    2.) heart
    3.)Blood =?
    Answer: one of these 3 question you have to answer if you dont get it go back to the story / and read!
    Doctor = A
    Doctor = B
    Doctor = C
    Answer these question please from above.
    Fix+?
    Doctor+?
    Health+?
    you have the wrong answer the answer are here A.)Tongue B.)Doctor= A
    C.)Doctor it is abc because it is talking about doctor and tongue Doctor= A Doctor is for the you’re name that is you are the doctor and you are _cut you’re tongue_ and you are at the Dark because the Devil is cutting slicing you’re head that’s what Doctor means!
    Thank you for finishing the process 0__0
    Dark+?

    Reply
  4. maya -  March 14, 2012 - 3:19 pm

    nursery rhymes where the first political comics. Mary Mary quite contrary is about bloody Mary, guillotines and graveyards. Humpty Dumpty is about a cannon.

    Reply
  5. Karen O'Hanlon -  February 11, 2012 - 9:19 am

    Awareness is all. Yes, it is important for adults to know the background history of everything! Even fairy tales and Mother Goose rhymes. However, that does not mean we should not use these rhymes with children. After all, they are enthralled by the curious word usage and rythmic cadences that enhance their language learning. Young children are not thinking adult thoughts nor should they be. They are in a different stage of life, and you are not teaching the negative historical aspects of nursery rhymes by enjoying the language of Mother Goose. I think it is best to leave history in its historical context and not drag it into the enjoyment of Mother Goose rhyming with small children. Of course, if you cannot enjoy the rhymes because of your negative focus–best not to share nursery rhymes with children. The will definitely pick up your negativity. When kids reach their teenage years, however, it is more relevant to introduce them to a critical understanding of the past. Of course, if they have never heard nursery rhymes, it may not mean much to them when you do that.

    Reply
  6. diamond -  January 13, 2012 - 10:17 am

    hickery dickery dock
    the mouse ran up the clock
    the clock striked once
    the mouse ran down
    hickery dickery dock
    tick tock tick tock
    hickery dickery dock

    Old mother hubert
    went to her cupboard
    to give her poor dog a bone
    but when she got there
    the cupboard was bear
    and so the poor dog had non

    Three blind mice
    three blind mice
    see how they run
    see how they run
    they all run after the farmer’s wife
    who cut off their tale with a carving knife
    have you ever seen such a thing in your life
    as Three blind mice

    Reply
  7. #NotGonnaLiee! -  January 13, 2012 - 6:16 am

    Okay Say Bah Bah Black Sheep How Did The Master Know He Wanted To Get The Wool Back In Days Wip Wip Black People Gone & Pick Cotton How You Know Whee Wanted Too Pick The Cotton Bias Bastard (ImJustSaying)
    # ImNootBiased!

    Reply
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