Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed May 30 07:00:31 UTC 2001

At 7:31 PM +0100 5/30/01, Jonathon Green wrote:
>I recall the 'one-ball' song at a British preparatory (i.e. age 8-13) school
>in 1959 (I was 10/11). We always used the present tense in all lines,
>despite the 14 years that had passed since the Fuhrer's demise. I don't, on
>the other hand, recall any reference to the testicle in question being
>'left' (or indeed 'right'); the song began (to the tune of 'Colonel Bogey'):
>'Hitler / Has only got one ball...'. I do have a vague (and possibly
>incorrect) memory of 'The other is in the Albert Hall' - although that
>rather screws upo the scansion once we get to Goering.

Your recollection confirms my hypothesis:  using the present tense
and/or British English, you wouldn't have heard the "one left ball",
since "has only got one ball" is good U.S. OR Brit. English, while
"had only got one ball" is good British but not U.S. English, whence
the somewhat illogical or forced"had only one left ball" or the
scansion-challenged "had one one...ball" versions.

>WW2 was still relatively 'contemporary' (our fathers - and sometimes
>mothers - had in many cases been involved in the fighting) and we were also
>aware of a number of other once-popular bawdy songs of the period, notably
>'Parlez-vous' (starting: 'The German officers crossed the line,
>parlez-vous...' which also, as I recall, involved testicular deprivation,
>although I believe that song may date to WW1. That said I think it was sung
>to a modified version of the tune of 'The Runaway Train', which should allow
>someone with better musical knowledge than myself to provide a proper
>dating. And again, at 42 years distance, even that general memory - the
>music, though not the song itself - may be wrong.).
a take-off from "Mademoiselle from Armentieres", I believe.


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