Thursday, December 30, 2010

Diddling along in the silly season

It’s still the silly season here. It’s strange how a ditty jumps into your head and won’t leave. For me this week it’s ‘Diddle, diddle dumpling, my son John’ [1]. I don’t know why. Maybe there’s a deep Freudian meaning. Maybe not. To help me decide, I enlisted the help of Mr Google. First the word ‘diddle’. YourDictionary.com gives several meanings – including some sexual ones [2]. I doubted an 18th century English nursery rhyme would stoop to sexual innuendo. I then found an English nursery rhyme website that says ‘diddle’ is a corruption of ‘toddle’ (and ‘dumpling’ can mean a short fat child) [3]. That a dumpling toddles makes sense. Though the nursery rhyme’s literal meaning’s now clearer, its psychological meaning to me’s not. Nonetheless I moved my researches onwards – to words ending in ‘diddle’. A ‘paradiddle’ is a basic drumming pattern. Apparently in percussion, a ‘diddle’ is two consecutive beats played by the same hand (i.e. either RR or LL). And a ‘paradiddle’ is a 4-note pattern of the form RLRR or LRLL [4]. Listen to one here [5]. Isn’t that marvellous. What quick hands. The rhythm sounds to me like a train speeding up and then slowing down. Finally a ‘taradiddle’ is a fib, or a pretentious nonsense. Dictionary.com says it’s an 18th century English word whose origin’s unclear [6]. The ‘diddle’ meaning’s obvious. But I can’t find any ‘tara’ (or ‘tarra’) prefix. Oh well, our silly seasonll soon be over. Ho hum.

1 comment:

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

I would love to know why the brain does that ridiculous repetiton thing with bits of a song or a silly phrase.
It's like a record that gets stuck and keeps playing a short piece over and over again. I have never found anything useful gets repeated like an algebraic equation. Just something daft. Now if I start with that silly didle bit I may just get a bit cranky!