apple davy?

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Wed Jan 20 23:51:22 UTC 2010

>>        Apple Davie, currant Tam,
>>        Sugar rollie, black man.
>>                                                    (Nairn)
> Now, Robin, tell us what "(a) currant Tam" is!  I don't see any clues
> in the DSL.  A childish pronunciation of "jam"??
> Joel

Ah, now there you have me, Joel -- the bottom line is that I really don't
have the faintest idea what a "currant Tam" is.

I'd assume that the two-line counting rhyme refers to four kinds of Scottish
sweet, dessert, cookie, whatever(s) enjoyed by small Scottish children in
the late nineteenth century.

I'd further feel that all four things would be able to be held in the hand
rather than having to be eaten from a plate.

Thus "Apple Davie" would be some sort of apple pie, or a slice of a pie.
"currant Tam" (whatever it is) might be a scone which had raisins as part of
the ingredients.
"Sugar rollie" might be a sugar stick.
"black man" might relate to black bun

(I've had my attention drawn to the way that explaining a black bun by
reference to a treacle scone might actually make things more rather than
less obscure, in terms of American Standard English.

Anyway, here's a recipe for a Hogmanay Black Bun: )

Other than that, I really dunno -- and as a children's counting rhyme,
there's not even any obligation on it to make sense, or for the words to
actually exist.

...  and at that point the door bell rang to deliver a package from FedEx,
and naturally enough I took the opportunity to take a meditative puff on my
pipe as I was outside the house anyway, whereupon ...  "Bugger me rigid!" I
exclaimed to myself, almost dropping my pipe and using one of the many
phrases playing on the non-sexual UK use of the term "bugger" as a simple
intensifier, "that's what the evil weans were up to!"

It's simply a nonsense substitution rhyme.

Three substitutions are obvious:

    Apple PIE => Apple Davie
    Sugar STICK => Sugar rollie
    Black BUN => Black man

... but Currant [????] => Currant Tam

All we need to do now is identify a word in 19thC Scottish (Nairn) dialect
[children's play register] that could be replaced by "Tam" in the original
"currant WORD" phrase.

Shouldn't be *that difficult.  <g>

Actually, your earlier suggestion of "jam" might work in this context, Joel


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