Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu May 31 05:30:15 UTC 2001

At 12:16 PM -0400 5/31/01, Mark_Mandel at wrote:
>Larry sez:
>Indeed.  I checked once but can't remember if any preserve the
>version from my own childhood, which (the march, not the childhood)
>was colored by two relevant factors:
>(1) Since I was born in 1945, the song was cast in past tense.
>(2) Since I was in an American English environment, the past tense of
>possession could only be "had", not "had got".  ("Hitler had only got
>one ball" is impossible.)
>So for us it was:
>Had only one, left, ball
>Had two but they were small
>Had something sim'lar
>And Goebbals
>Had no balls
>At all.
>Born in 1948, I learned the same words as you,

I'm not surprised, given our usual isoglossic mutuality, although
there seems to be a "left" vs. "big" isogloss boundary between us.

>  with the following differences:
>      Had only one, left, ball
>        => Had only one -- big -- ball
>      And Goebbals
>        => And Hermann Goebbels

Hmmm.  Never heard it with the first name included.

>Dashes are a common way of showing a rest or prolonged note. I don't hear
>the pauses before and after "big" as belonging to the text (non-restrictive
>commas), but rather to the music. Of course, with "big" there's no need for
>non-restrictive pauses.

True enough, while with our "left" version there certainly is.  My
music tutors would probably have rejected the "big" as too possibly
complimentary, the way "right" (but of course not "left") would have

>  "Goebbels" has a long "o" /ow/ as the first vowel,
>rhyming with "nobles" and almost-rhyming with "no balls", rather than any
>attempt at an o-umlaut. "Goering", OTOH, rhymes with "herring" or "daring".
You're certainly right (i.e. in agreement with the version I recall)
about the umlauts.  Goebbels (sorry about my spelling) did indeed
have a long /ow/ chez nous, and Goering an /eh/, turning his surname
into a nasalized version of that of the then universally renowned
(Lou) Gehrig, the erstwhile (pre-Ripkenian) Iron Man who succumbed to
his eponymous disease six months before Pearl Harbor.  (Also note
that in my speech, and I presume Mark's, "herring" and "daring" do
not rhyme--I assume what we saying is that "Goering" could rhyme with
either, not both.)


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