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Un petit d'un petit s'étonne aux Halles...
August 1, 2008 1:59 AM   Subscribe

I need some really easy-to-learn nursery rhymes in foreign languages.

What are some cool *really* easy foreign language nursery rhymes to sing to my baby? I don't mind which language as long there aren't too many words (and some guidance on pronunciation) - or if they are sung to a recognisable tune - like in the case of Ah, vous dirai-je Maman which is sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Thanks!
posted by low_horrible_immoral to Education (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always liked the French children's rhyme/song Les Petits Poissons about the little fishes in the water that swim as well as the big ones. That video doesn't include a second verse I learned about Les Petits Oiseaux, the little birds that fly in the air as well as the big ones. It's a charming and simple rhyme, though.
posted by trip and a half at 2:29 AM on August 1, 2008


May I direct you to The Sneeze's global schoolyard rhymes project?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:31 AM on August 1, 2008


Their is also a simple, charming German kid's song with the lyrics:

"Die Katze hat vier Beine, auf jede Ecke eine..." which translates to, "the cat has four legs, one in each corner", but I am having less luck finding that one on the internets.
posted by trip and a half at 2:36 AM on August 1, 2008


Ugh. "Their is" s/b "There is" of course. Time for bed.
posted by trip and a half at 2:38 AM on August 1, 2008


Frère Jacques

Kaeru No Uta – Frog Song... there's the lyrics and tune here with some more Japanese songs
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:52 AM on August 1, 2008


Chang Chang Chang
posted by the cuban at 2:53 AM on August 1, 2008


Brezairola, a traditional lullaby in Occitan (from the Massif central region of France).

Soun, soun, beni, beni beni;
Soun, soun, beni, beni, doun!
Soun, soun, beni, beni beni;
Soun, soun, beni, d'en docon!
Lou soun, soun bouol pas beni, pecaire!
Lou soun, soun bouol pas beni,
Lou neni s'en bouol pas durmi!
Oh! ...

Soun, soun, beni, beni beni;
Soun, soun, beni, beni, doun!
Lou soun, soun bouol pas beni,
L'efontou bouol pas durmi!
Soun, soun, beni, beni beni;
Soun, soun, beni o l'efon! oh! ...
Oh! ...

The recording I have is by Barbra Streisand but you can listen to it here.
posted by ceri richard at 3:04 AM on August 1, 2008


My father used to sing a really silly 4 line Afrikaans nursery rhyme called "o die donkey". The English translation is:

O the donkey
The donkey is a wonderful thing
He stands on the land
And he eats the newspaper

There are versions on YouTube if you want to learn the pronounciation.
posted by roofus at 3:04 AM on August 1, 2008


The Planet Sleeps has a few nice songs and comes with lyrics. I found "Fais Do Do" and "Schlafe Mein Prinzchen, Schlaf Ein" simple musically and linguistically, but probably just because I'm more familiar with Western European languages and tones.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:39 AM on August 1, 2008


Rasa Sayang:

Rasa sayang eh,
Rasa sayang sayang eh,
Eh, lihat nona jauh
Rasa sayang sayang eh!

The rest of it is 4-line pantun poetry but you can just sing that bit.
posted by divabat at 4:19 AM on August 1, 2008


Zo-san (warning: sound)

Zo-san zo-san
O-ha-na-ga-nagainone
So-yo Ka-a-san mo na-gainoyo

Elephant, oh elephant
Your nose is so long
Yes, my mom's is long, too

Zo-san zo-san
Da-a-re-ga-sukina-ano
A-no-ne Ka-a-san-ga-sukinanoyo

Elephant, oh elephant
Who do you like best?
I know what, I like my mom best of all

(The translation is mine.)

This is a classic children's song in Japan. The poem written by Michio Mado, a poet who received the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1994, was first published in 1948, which was then set to music and released in 1953, according to the Japanese Wikipedia.
posted by misozaki at 4:38 AM on August 1, 2008


In German:

Eins, zwei, Polizei
Drei, vier, Offizier
Fünf, sechs, alte Hex (though as a kid I learned it as "links, rechts")
Sieben, acht, gute Nacht
Neun, zehn, auf wiedersehen!

(One, two, police
Three, four, officer
Five, six, old witch
Seven, eight, good night
Nine, ten, goodbye!)
posted by ubersturm at 6:18 AM on August 1, 2008


Maybe 'Hansje pansje kevertje' on the tune of 'Itsy bitsy spider'.

Hansje Pansje kevertje
die klom al op een hek.
Neer viel de regen
die spoelde Hansje weg.
Op kwam de zon
die maakte Hansje droog.
Hansje Pansje kevertje
die klom toen weer omhoog.

or

Alle eendjes zwemmen in het water,
Falderalderiere, falderalderare,
Alle eendjes zwemmen in het water,
Fal, fal, falderalderalderaldera.

See kinderliedjes for pronounciation and more dutch childrens songs
posted by RobHoi at 6:39 AM on August 1, 2008


Luis d'Antin van Rooten's book Mots d'Heures: Gousse, Rames is a fascinating read on the subject with an eye for French nursery rhymes.
posted by vkxmai at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2008


The Baby Einstein Language Nursery video features a nubmer of little nursery rhymes in several languages. It also features counting and the alphabet in several languages including Spanish, German, Hebrew, and Japanese.
posted by Palmcorder Yajna at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2008


These are all aces, thanks! It's fascinating what nursery rhymes show about different countries as well. English ones I've noticed appear to be obsessed with monarchy (and animals, and sometimes both).
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 7:41 AM on August 1, 2008


Oh! I was sure this would already have been said:

"Pio, pio, pio"
Dicen los pollitos
Cuando tienen hambre,
Cuando tienen frio.


That's how my dad sang it to me, but the song in the video reverses the first two lines.

"Pio, pio, pio," say the little chicks, when they are hungry, when they are cold.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2008


Oh, and the tune is very similar to "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider."
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2008


Hard to favourite one - shall have a go at learning some of these first! Thanks all again.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 2:11 PM on August 1, 2008


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