oh my gosh: how did I not know about this counting-out system called Yan-Tan...?!— Laura Gibbs (@OnlineCrsLady) November 15, 2019
I was looking up something about the nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock, which some people think is a counting out rhyme, and that led to this British sheep-counting system: https://t.co/NWfJgyicB6 pic.twitter.com/azXjrpo8ob
A bizarre looking number counting video. Reminiscent of 1970’s Sesame Street cartoons or some quirky Russian (80’s?) cartoons I’ve seen.
How do nonsensical counting-out rhymes like these enter the lexicon?
I also considered these rhymes as simple counting games, but the’re not really used to count up as if they were ordinals. Most people couldn’t even come close to saying how many things they’d have counted if they sang such a song. I also find that while watching children sing these while “counting” they typically do so with a choice for each syllable, but this often fails in the very young so that they can make their own “mental” choice known while still making things seem random. For older kids, with a little forethought and some basic division one can make something seemingly random and turn it into a specific choice as well.
So what are these really and what purpose did they originally serve?