[Ads-l] Pop goes the weasel

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Sat Mar 18 21:33:28 EDT 2017

Follows what was intended as a post to the list by Peter Reitan, followed by
what would have been my response had the post appeared:



A comment on Wikipedia entry for "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush" suggests
that "bramble bush" may pre-date mulberry bush in the rhyme.  The thinking being
that mulberries grow on trees, not bushes, so it wouldn't have been natural.


The Opies come down pretty firmly on the side of “mulberry bush”, with one
citation of a lady born in 1818 remembering “mulberry bush” as what was sung
when she was a girl.  However, whichever version of "mulberry [or other] bush"
was the original, I'd guess that by the 1850s, the “mulberry” version was easily
the commonest, on both sides of the Pond.  I'm hoping the ONRB will have more
textual detail -- The Singing Game continues the Opies' work in The Lore and
Language of Schoolchildren, rather than ODNR, so is more focused on action
rather than on textual matters, as far as I've looked into it.  An amazingly
productive scholarly couple, altogether!


The reference in the WIKI article to Halliwell (1849) explains the source of the
remark in The Singing Game about an 1849 bramble bush text -- the Opies include
the various editions of Halliwell in their bibliography, including that one, so
maybe assume their readers will simply pick up on that.  But if Halliwell prints
the mulberry version in 1849 as his primary text, that would suggest to me that,
by then, it was already the “standard” version.


Robin Hamilton

From: Robin Hamilton mailto:robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Sent: ‎3/‎18/‎2017 15:48
Subject: Re: Pop goes the weasel

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
Subject:      Re: Pop goes the weasel

Nicely dated American example, Peter.  The monkey (or dog) chasing the weas=
seems to be peculiarly American, following on from (does the dating hold?) =
monkey knocked off/on the table.

I suspect here an attempt to produce something which made more rational sen=
than the tabled monkey, with a monkey earlier chasing the weasel round a
mulberry bush echoing the already existing nursery rhyme beginning, "Here w=
e go
round the mulberry bush ... On a cold and frosty morning."  It makes more s=
to me that the sequence would have a monkey turned into a dog, and a mulber=
bush (in this context)  transformed into a bramble bush, than vice versa.
 Unless, to the American ear, the bramble bush immediately conjures up Joel
Chandler Harris's (re)telling of Brer Rabbit -- "Don't throw me into the br=
patch, Brer Fox!"


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