56 - !! Un petit, d’un petit

I have long enjoyed Verse and Worse. Here is an offering off the right hand end of that scale, written Feb 2008, shared June 2010. My children’s comments, where repeatable, were along the lines “Oh...”

What you do - for those not already inclined to do something else—is attempt to read this out loud and listen to yourself. This activity quite possibly has a name in psychology texts. Homophonic translation is what it is, of course. Hopefully, what you hear is somehow familiar.

Or not.




There is a tie din they’re a fare sough men
witched aken gnat thief Ludd leats on tough
or tune;
no ‘mitter t’all thief oi urge off there lie fizz bound - inch hallow sanding miss or ease.
Once a Chaffle see ah wee no waffle oat
An dreamers taketh a currant when it surfs,
earl ooze half-inches

                                                                                             Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217


If mu sick be thief udder luff, blay yon:
Giff mere ex cesser fit, that surf fitting,
They’re rapid hate mace sick en, ants oh dye.
That’s train erg N ! It adder dye ink-full:
Oh! It game o’er May year liketh as wheat’s houndeth
at Brie thus a bonner ban cough aye (oh, lets)
‘s Tea, Lynne gander give ink Oder ! Enough! Gnome o’er:
Tizz knots oh suite now Oz - it was be four.

Oz be Ritter fluff! How quick end fraiche art the Howe
That a knot with Stan ding thigh cup ass it tea
Reece if Eth adze thus see, naught inters they’re
Rough watt val oddity an dip itch so err
Butt fall sin t’wer a bait meant and lope rice
Eve an dinn erm, innit; Sophe uller shay puss his fan see,
That Titter loan his siphon testicle

                                                                                 Twelfth Night, opening verses


May I recommend Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes - Mot Guesses Rames, from the D’Antin Manuscript. one of which (from memory) goes something like this:

Un petit d’un petit s’étonne aux Halles
Un petit d’un petit - ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse, indolent quine se mène
Qu’importe un petit d’un petit tout Gaie de Reguennes

If you don’t ‘get’ it, go to wikipedia and seek Mots d’Heures.

Lit-elle messe, moffette,
Satan ne te fête,
Et digne somme coeurs et nouez.
À longue qu’aime est-ce pailles d’Eure.
Et ne Satan bise ailleurs
Et ne fredonne messe. Moffette, ah, ouais!

I also discovered tonight that a friend [wrote Andrew Hearst, at the same time allowing me to discover the same on another night]  of d’Antin’s named Ormonde de Kay later published a similar book called N’Heures Souris Rames (now out of print), which contained the following version of a classic nursery rhyme:

Georgie Port-régie, peu digne en paille,
Qui se dégeule sans mais. Dame craille.
Où haine de bouées ce qu’ aime a tout pilé:
Georgie Port-régie règne. Ohé.


...and, after that dash of class, here’s my awful attempt to do something similar in Chinese:

Hong yi su er ke mali pensa                                    Red one white two (plants) at full speed (is) sprayed¹

Er ke se an da wai yuan li er  se ke wei da re
er ke se kui ren dipian huai
ci kui rendao tuotai mazi xi tai ma za ta

This muddle headed person has left many spots large and small on the photo for an exam; he thinks the pockmarks will represent a lucky decay of humanity. He is odd! ²


This added 21011203:

Yi1 feng1mi4 you1 si4 ke3 bi2zi fu3dao3 fu2le feng1, bu lai2 yong4     gei feng1mi4 er zi si fei te4

One bee is dead but (since) the nose coaches paid wasps, do not come apply.  Give the honey twice dead a special flight                 

Presumably this is about the use of honey after the queen has died or moved on. The Nose is perhaps the smoke gun used by bee-keepers as seen from inside the hive and the reference to wasps may be the effect of the smoke, to ‘see wasps’.          ³


...of course, any better suggestions are very welcome and I will declare them as yours.

See also Essay 117, draft Mots Guesses.



1     The first of these is supposed to be Honi soit qui mal y pense.

2    As for the second, I have no idea either - my Mandarin has come—or gone—a long way since I wrote this (a year or more).

I think it says “Ask and why.. secure... doubt what time...” but I cannot find whatever it was I thought this said. You find it and I’ll attribute it.      “Ask and while you only ask...?”


3   If music be the food of love play on; give me excess of it,                                     Twelfth Night 1,1,1




Addenda 20130523

Wikipedia strikes yet again, though I found these myself on an earlier foray, but didn’t save the files.

Morder Guss Reims: the Gustav Leberwurst Manuscript (1981: John Hulme). Around $10 from Amazon.

Wikipedia refers to Afferbeck Lauder (I have a copy somewhere), Mondegreens (elsewhere on this site and somewhat again, below). But then I also have Geordie on the Beer and bits of the Geordie Bible...


Anguish Languish (1956: Howard L Chance) can be found here - sample to sing for six yuan follows:

        Sinker sucker sex pants
        Apocryphal awry
        Foreign turnkey blank boards
        Bagged inner pyre.
        Whinny pious orphaned
        Door boards bay-gander sink.
        Worsen dizzy jelly ditch
        Toe setter furry kink?

        Door kink worse inner conning horse
        Conning otters moaning.
        Door coin worse inner panda
        Aiding burden honing.
        Door mate worse inner gardening
        Hankering ardor cloys.
        A lung camel blank board
        An sniffing offer noise!

A companion volume to Mots D’Heures is N’Heures Souris Rames (1980: Ormonde de Kay), of which “Signe, garcon, neuf sikhs se pansent” may ring a bell for another six yuan.

Mondegreens:  [More of these in Essay 110.]

More Mots Guesses in Essay 117

If you haven’t come across these before, Sylvia Wright admitted to mishearing a verse from ‘the Bonny Earl Moray’ in her essay ‘the Death of Lady Mondegreen’ published 1954.    
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

[“...and laid him on the green” that patch of grass in the middle of the village].

The word mondegreen has passed into dictionaries this century and I found an immense list of them in the musical world, from Terry Wogan’s “I’m in love with Malcolm” [I believe in miracles] to the church hymn “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear”. You may remember the 1976 Two Ronnies “Four Candles”: for those that don’t, here’s most of the sketch, found here:


The sketch opens with a throwaway joke as the hardware shopkeeper (Corbett) hands a lady a roll of toilet paper, saying "mind how you go". The lady exits and the shopkeeper is then confronted by a customer (Barker), who is holding a shopping list. The customer then requests what sounds like "four candles". The shopkeeper then takes out four candles, but the customer merely repeats his request and the shopkeeper is confused. The customer rephrases his request to reveal he in fact wanted "fork 'andles" (handles for garden forks.)

He then asks for plugs. To try to avoid a similar mistake the shopkeeper asks what kind and is told "a rubber one, bathroom". Believing that he is asking for rubber bath plugs the shopkeeper gets out a box of them and asks for the size. The customer's answer is "thirteen amp" revealing he in fact wants an insulated electric plug.

He next asks for saw tips. Confused, the shopkeeper asks if he wants an ointment for "sore tips". After a better explanation the shopkeeper explains they do not have any. This causes little or no frustration.

He then asks for "o's". This item causes the most frustration with the shopkeeper bringing a hoe, a hose ("'Ose! I thought you said "'oes!") and pantyhose to the counter before working out what he wants are the letter O for the garden gate - "'o's as in 'Mon Repose'". The box of garden gate letters is noticeably difficult to get to and put back, requiring a ladder.

When he asks for "peas" the shopkeeper, believing him to be asking for the letter P for a garden gate, is understandably annoyed as they are in the box he has just put back. The customer waits for him to get the box down before better explaining what he wants - tins of peas. At this point the shopkeeper first suspects it may be a joke.

He then asks for "pumps" and the shopkeeper asks him to elaborate. The customer complies by asking for "foot pumps". The shopkeeper brings a pneumatic pump to the counter. The customer then reveals he wants "brown pumps size nine". At this point the shopkeeper becomes convinced that the customer is playing a practical joke on him.

After he asks for washers the shopkeeper, out of desperation and annoyance, recites a long list of possible items. The customer then explains he wants tap washers, almost the only type of washer that the shopkeeper failed to list.

At this point the shopkeeper, having had enough, snatches the shopping list the customer has been holding to complete the order without any confusions. However, he then seems to take offence at something written on the list. He decides he cannot tolerate the customer any longer and calls his assistant from the back to complete the order. The assistant reveals that the request was for billhooks. The audience is intended to infer that the shopkeeper misread it as bollocks or pillocks.


Challenge: you write some homophonic translations, in English or in other languages, and I’ll put them up here.

DJS 20130523


© David Scoins 2017