Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 22:19:27 -0600
From: Mike Salovesh t20mxs1[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Subject: Re: children's rhymes

Duane Campbell wrote:

Ring Around the Rosey is commonly sung as so - so - me - la - so - me, but
that's not the only thing this riff is used for. Johnnie's got a
girlfriend. I know where you're going. I was surprised to hear small
children in Germany and France using the same ditty for their own purposes.
Anyone have an idea of its provinance?

Duane Campbell dcamp[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

I have no direct answer. There was a song that used that element, but it
clearly was a musical quotation, not the original source.

I refer to a World War II song about a U.S. pilot in the Pacific. The "so -
so - me - la - so - me" phrase was adapted to the words "Johnny got a Zero",
meaning the Japanese fighter plane. Not a great song, but quite popular for
its message. The song begins with kids teasing Johnny for bad test results
back in school -- and ends with triumphant affirmation of military success.

Oh, God, now that damned tune will stick in my head all night. "Johnny got a
Zero, he got another Zero, Johnny got a Zero, today!" And me a pacifist in the
first place. Sticking it in the heads of some other old-timers out there is
all I can do to pay you back for bringing it up at all.

Now for my own dialect inquiry: Duane says "so - me - la". Back in grade
school, I'm pretty sure I was taught to spell the scale "do - re - mi - fa -
sol - la - ti - do", except for a couple of holdout music teachers who insisted
that the 7th should be "si", not "ti". (The "l" in "sol" for the 5th was
pronounced by all.) Without sending me back to the school of solfaggio, or to
shapenote singers, does anyone recall hearing other variants in these words for
the musical scale? (I'm asking for words used in English more or less within
living human memory.)

-- mike
anthropology department
northern illinois
university PEACE !!!