Faculty of education department of english language and literature a comparison of czech and english nursery rhymes



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MASARYK UNIVERSITY

FACULTY OF EDUCATION

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE


A COMPARISON OF CZECH AND ENGLISH NURSERY RHYMES

Diploma Thesis
Brno 2007

Supervised by: Written by:

prof. PhDr. Josef Hladký, Csc. Hana Doležalová

DECLARATION

I hereby declare that I have worked on this diploma thesis on my own and that I have used only the sources listed in the references. I also give consent to deposit this thesis in the library at Masaryk University or the Information system of the Faculty of Education and to be made available for study purposes.


________________________

Hana Doležalová

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank my supervisor prof. PhDr. Josef Hladký, Csc., who has helped me with the present thesis, especially for her proposals and valuable advice which I appreciated a lot.
Brno, 20th April 2007

Table of contents



INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………….6

  1. Definition of Nursery Rhyme……………………………………………….………..8

  2. FOLKLORE…………………………………………………………………………..9

    1. History of folklore…………………………………………………………...10

    2. Categories of folklore………………………………………………………..11

    3. Czech folklore………………………………………………………………..12

      1. Genres which are abundantly represented in Czech folklore literature……………………………………………………………..12

    4. A comparison of Czech and English folklore……………………………...13
  3. A COMPARISON OF CZECH AND ENGLISH RHYME……………….……...14


    1. Definition of the word „rhyme“.……………………………………………14

    2. Czech rhyme…………………………………………………………………15

      1. Functions of Czech rhyme………………………………………….15

      2. Types of Czech rhyme………………………………………………17

    3. Rhyme in English……………………………………………………………18

      1. Types of English rhyme…………………………………………….21

  1. A HISTORY OF NURSERY RHYMES…………………………………………..21

    1. History of English nursery rhymes………………………………………..21

      1. Nursery rhymes of Mother Goose………………………………24

    2. History of Czech nursery rhymes…………………………………………25

      1. Czech folklore collectors……………………………………………26
  1. CATEGORIES OF NURSERY RHYMES……………………………………..28

    1. A lullaby…………………………………………………………………….28


    2. An Alphabet rhyme, a counting rhyme, a finger game…………………..30

    3. Nursery rhymes that were derived from adult´s rhymes………………..35

    4. Categories of Czech nursery ryhymes…………………………………….36

  2. NURSERY RHYMES´ LYRICS ……………………………………………….38
    1. Some most famous lyrics and possible origins of old English nursery rhymes………………………………………………………………………38


    2. Czech nursery rhymes……………………………………………………..59

  3. THE ROLE OF NURSERY RHYMES IN LEARNINF LANGUAGE……….64

    1. The role of nursery rhymes in the process of a foreign language teaching……………………………………………………………………..65

8 CZECH NURSERY RHYMES AND ITS USAGE FOR LOGOPEADIC PURPOSES ……………………………………………………………………………68

INTRODUCTION

When asked to recall childhood memories, anybody of us would not remember at least a few lines of some famous nursery rhyme. What is so wonderful about nursery rhymes? It is perhaps the fact that we were able to recite them long before we could read or write and we heard them even before we could understand single word. These tales and rhymes bring us pleasant and „ warm“ memories of our childhood and have stayed with us and many others around the world for ages. They are wonderful also because they are immortal, we have heard them from our parents, our parents inherited them from their parents. They survived hundered years and still will be passed from one generation to another generation.

Henry Bett explains, "we owe the preservation of our nursery rhymes and nursery tales from remote ages to the astonishing persistence of popular tradition, reinforced by the characteristic conservatism of childhood which insists on having rhymes repeated the same way each time.“ (BETT, H., 1968:9)1

The topic of my thesis is: A Comparison of English and Czech nursery rhymes. As stated above, the reasons for I have chosen this topic are following: 1) There is almost nobody who would not be able to recite at least a few nursery rhymes. And still they do not know exactly what they mean or where they come from. 2) Even though there are quite a lot of opportunities to get a list of English or Czech nursery rhymes, there is much harder to find some closer information about them. 3) Another reason is my interest in the area of nursery rhymes. There is obvious that most of English and Czech nursery rhymes have a lot of common features, but I hope this thesis will help with further investigation in the area of the origin, history and mainly in divergence of these two groups of nursery rhymes.

Sometimes nursery rhymes are slighted and taken as a low literary style acceptable only for children. When we look closer at them we may find that they are constituents of our culture as any of the other literary styles and maybe even more then that because almost everybody is able to say some nursery rhymes. Abundantly, we can also find them in other literary works. Take, for instance, Alice´ adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll, in which we can find many of old nursery rhymes. In title of the tale „ And He Built a Crooked House“ by R. Heinlein. And also in Tolkien´s works, for instance, Frodo´s favourite song „ Hey diddle diddle“ and many others.

Before talking about any of the nursery rhymes it is necessary to mention what we should imagine with this word. As it is perceptible from the headline the main topic of this work is to look closer at the differences between English and Czech nursery rhymes. Neverless, firstly it should be discovered what is common to all nursery rhymes, including English and also Czech nursery rhymes. This is the explanation of the word nursery rhyme.


1. Definition of nursery ryhmes

„A nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children, originally in the nursery. Learning such verse assists in the development of vocabulary, and several examples deal with rudimentary counting skills. It also encourages children to enjoy music. In addition, specific actions, motions, or dances are often associated with particular songs.2[ Wikipedia – The Free Encyklopedia, on line]

Encyclopedia Britanica defines nursery rhymes as “a verse customarily told or sung to small children. The oral tradition of nursery rhymes is ancient, but new verses have steadily entered the stream.3[ Encyclopædia Britannica Online]

Many cultures feature children's songs and verses that are passed down by oral tradition from one generation to the next (either from parent to child, or from older children to younger children).

Nursery rhymes are part of a very comprehensive group called “ folklore”.

2 Folklore

When you ask people what they imagine when hearing the word „folklore“ they will probably say that folklore is connected with something traditional, old fashioned, rural or primitive. Folklore is much more than that.

See a few definitions bellow.

According to encyclopaedia wikipedia, folklore is: “ the body of expressive culture, including tales, music, dance, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, customs, and so forth within a particular population comprising the traditions (including oral traditions) of that culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The academic and usually ethnographic study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics.“4[ Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopaedia, on line]

Encyclopaedia Britannica defines folklore „in modern usage, an academic discipline the subject matter of which (also called folklore) comprises the sum total of traditionally derived and orally or imitatively transmitted literature, material culture, and custom of subcultures within predominantly literate and technologically advanced societies5[ Encyclopædia Britannica Online]

SCHOEMAKER says in „ The Emergence of Folklore in Everyday Life“: „Folklore is part of the experiences and practices of our everyday life. This means that we are all involved in the process of transmitting and performing folklore, even though we may not be aware of it. He also says: „Folklore can be put within the context of culture. Culture is a whole way of life. It is seen as being the totality of human expressions in a particular society. Human expressions take many forms, from behaviour such as habits, fears, attitudes, or customs to conscious constructions like art, music, literature, architecture, thought, language and symbols.“ 6[ SCHOEMAKER, H.G, 1990: 9]

The study of folklore is called as “folkloristics.”

2.1 History of folklore

The conception of folklore developed in 19th century as a part of an ideology of romantic nationalism, which should use oral traditions for serving to modern ideological goals. Only in the 20th century folklore began to be used without political goals. The Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm, collected orally passed German tales and published the first series as Kinder- und Hausmärchen ("Children's and Household Tales") in 1812.

The term folklore was taken in 1846 by an Englishman, William Thomas, who wanted to use an Anglo-Saxon term for what was then called "popular antiquities."

Folklore contains religious, mythic elements and also traditions of everyday life. It frequently puts together the practical and the esoteric into one narrative package. It has often been conflated with mythology because it has been assumed that any figurative story that does not pertain to the dominant beliefs of the time is not of the same status as those dominant beliefs. Thus, Roman religion is called "myth" by Christians. Sometimes "folklore" is religious in nature, for example Welsh Mabinogion7 or those found in Icelandic skaldic poetry.

Many of the tales also caries folklore elements in a Christian context: examples of such Christian mythology are tales about Saint George or Saint Christopher. In the case of Christians who have called such stories as ,myths , the term "folklore" is being used in a pejorative sense.

Folk tales are general term for different varieties of traditional narrative. The telling of stories appears to be for all cultures universal, common to all societies. Even some folktales are very often similar in one culture to the other, and comparative studies of themes and narrative ways have been successful in showing these relationships.

There is another view on the folklore, it is without any religious content. In the Jungian view, one method of analysis, it may instead pertain to unconscious psychological patterns, instincts or archetypes of the mind. This lore may have components of the fantastic. These folktales may come from a religious tradition, but nevertheless speak to deep psychological issues. The familiar folklore, "Hansel and Gretel8," is an example of this case. There can be both a moral and psychological scope, as well as entertainment value. It all depends on the nature of the teller, the style of the telling and the ages of the audience. Folklorists generally resist universal interpretations of narratives and, wherever possible, analyze oral versions of tellings in specific contexts, rather than print sources, which often show the work of the writer.

„Contemporary narratives common in the Western world include the urban legend.9 There are many forms of folklore that are so common, however, that most people do not realize they are folklore, such as riddles, children's rhymes and ghost stories, rumors, gossip, ethnic stereotypes, and holiday customs and life-cycle rituals.“ 10 [The Free Encyklopaedia, on-line]




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