[Ads-l] _long finger_ =?UTF-8?Q?=E2=80=9Cmiddle_?=finger"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 29 01:10:15 UTC 2017

While browsing around in DARE, I came across the above. Not only is this
the usual term for the middle finger that I used during my East Texas
childhood, but it also occurs in a song that I once heard when I was about
three years old. The song is entitled _Thumbkin_ et sim. Giving research a
lick and a promise, I found that the song goes back, in variants, to at
least 1849.

Thumbkin says he’ll dance
Thumbkin says he’ll sing
Dance and sing, ye merry little men
Thumbkin says he’ll dance and sing

Fore finger says he’ll dance

_Long finger_ says he’ll dance

Ring finger says he’ll dance

Short finger says he’ll dance

All fingers say they’ll dance


Speaking of recalling stuff from childhood, I once met a (white)
fellow-Texan who, as toddler, had had a Russian nursemaid. She used to sing
him to sleep with a Russian lullaby. He remembered that lullaby so well
that, over a quarter-century later, he was able to sing it, pronouncing the
Russian so well that I could easily understand the words of the song and
interpret them for him, his own knowledge of Russian being non-existent.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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