Onery twoery

You may have made a list of words that sound like each other and like to go around in pairs [see Tittle Tattle, January 20th2021). That list will come in handy if you would like to compose a counting or a counting out rhyme.

Here’s one from the Caribbean:

Abna Babna
Lady-Snee
Ocean potion
Sugar and tea
Potato roast
And English toast
O-U-T and out goes she.

And this is one from England:

Onery, twoery,
    Ziccary zan,
Hollow bone, crack-a-bone,
    Ninery, ten.
 
Spit, spot,
    It must be done
Twiddleum, twaddlum,
    Twenty-one.

That one may have started life as a shepherd’s counting rhyme. Children’s rhymes often include things that are happening around them There is probably a Cover rhyme somewhere already.

There is a lovely article about counting out rhymes on the British Library website:

https://www.bl.uk/playtimes/articles/counting-out-games

There are some great videos of children using the rhymes, including some from the 1950s and one from Pakistan.

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