A children's punning/rhyming game

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Sat Jul 24 03:37:29 UTC 2004

On Jul 23, 2004, at 11:02 PM, Janis Vizier Nihart wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Janis Vizier Nihart <tarheel at MOBILETEL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: A children's punning/rhyming game
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> --------
> I grew up in the 50's and 60's and definitely remember hearing and
> using the
> rhyme in South Louisiana.  What does Puttin and Tane mean?

I'm not sure. I've seen that line in print as "Putting and ta'en,"
which, I think, stands for "putting and taken." It's probably not
supposed to mean anything; it's just there to provide a rhyme. I don't
think I've heard anybody actually say it except when I was in the first
grade, so it probably doesn't have a "real" meaning, since it's just
for little kids.

Back in the '60's, when I told my buddy about the recorded version, he
thought that I was just making some arcane joke. He was freaked when he
heard the song for himself. It was like someone had made a recording
for adults of "Humpty-Dumpty" or something. Really weird.

-Wilson Gray

> Janis Nihart
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET>
> Sent: Friday, July 23, 2004 9:30 PM
> Subject: A children's punning/rhyming game
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail
> header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET>
>> Subject:      A children's punning/rhyming game
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ----
> -----
>> On my very first day in the first grade 1942 in Saint Louis, I was
>> victimized by the following word game:
>> Q. What's your name?
>> A. Putting and ta'en!
>>       Ask me again
>>      And I'll tell you the same.
>> This struck me as so hip that I couldn't wait to get home and tell my
>> mother about. Unfortunately, she, born in Longview, TX, in 1914, was
>> not impressed, since kids were already running this game on one
>> another
>> when she was a child.
>> This little front-off game is so popular and well-known among black
>> children that it was re-written as a rhythm-&-blues dance song for
>> adults that was famous for fifteen minutes on black-oriented AM radio
>> back in the 'Sixties.
>> So far, I haven't met any white people to whom this is familiar.
>> Ordinarily, I'd conclude that this game is only a black thing.
>> However,
>> over the years, I've found it in nursery-rhyme collections directed
>> toward a white audience. In fact, had I not, I wouldn't know how to
>> write it out the first line of the answer, since what I've always
>> heard
>> sounds something like this:
>> Q. Whutcho name?/whussho name?
>> A. Putnin tane!
>>       Ass/ax me agin,
>>      I teh yuh dih same.
>> Anyway, are any of y'all white folk out yonder familiar with this?
>> -Wilson Gray

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