Help me sing a Dutch nursery rhyme to my daughter
March 25, 2014 4:58 PM   Subscribe

My dad (who was Dutch) used to sing two nursery rhyme/children's songs to us and the grandchildren of my family. He passed away a few years ago and I'd like to sing it to my daughter but I have no idea how to spell (or even really pronouce the song title). Can you help me google it?

The first one was pronounced something like 'ro(roi?)-bosch-a-tich'. It was about a little bird knocking on the window I think. ('Tich, tich, tich', went one of the lines, which I assume means tap tap tap or something similar). The second one was 'clapas-in-ya-heinches'. I know these are terrible approximations because we used to make our dad laugh by attempting them. The second one had a line that we used to sing as 'up ya bolls-a-bollinger, a-la-bey'. At that point he would take baby's hands and place them together....maybe over their head? And sway back and forth to the next bit which I won't try to phonetically spell out because I doubt it would help....

Any ideas, dutch speakers of metafilter?

Going to ask relatives next but the Dutch speaking ones are not close to me and I am a bit embarrassed to reveal my laughable pronunciation.
posted by jojobobo to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The first one sounds like Roodborstje tikt tegen hat raam (little red robin taps on the window).
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 5:06 PM on March 25, 2014

Best answer: Oh! and the second one, is it possible it's klap eens in je handjes?
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 5:10 PM on March 25, 2014

Response by poster: awesome! thank you so much
posted by jojobobo at 5:44 PM on March 25, 2014

As a cloggie, I can conform that both of these are correct: the first one is Roodborstje tikt tegen 't raam, the second one is Klap eens in je handjes (Clap your little hands).
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:45 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a translation of the 'Roodborstje' text.
'Klap eens in je handjes' is here.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:49 PM on March 25, 2014

From your description it sounds possible that in the version your dad sang for you he left out the middle part ("Handjes in de hoogte, Handjes in je zij", which means "Hands in the air, hands on your hips"). I don't know if that's a regional or generational thing, but I never heard that version before. The version I know (both from when I was a kid and when I had a kid) was just three sentences: "Klap eens in je handjes blij blij blij, op je boze bolletje allebei, zo varen de scheepjes voorbij") and the gestures then match exactly what you are saying.

"Klap eens in je handjes" is still one of the most popular Dutch nursery rhymes.
posted by blub at 11:59 PM on April 3, 2014

The translation that Too-Ticky linked is correct, but this is a really old song and therefore hard to translate, and even Dutch people often don't really understand the meaning of old songs (the Dutch language has changed a lot in 100 years). Bolletje means head in this context but it literally means "little sphere" (or "scoop" as in a scoop of ice cream) and in regular Dutch you would never ever use the world bolletje when you mean head. Since bolletje is kind of a cute word, boze bolletje sounds less harsh than angry head does. It is also questionable whether boze in this context actually means angry. There is a Dutch word bolleboos which means "someone who is very smart/likes learning". Its etymology is unclear (I searched and found that etymologists either think it comes from a Hebrew word for master of the house, or for a word for small pancakes, so yeah) but you can recognize the words bol and boos just like in the song (boze is just a conjugation of boos and bolletje is a small bol), so it's possible that boze bolletje actually meant something like "smart little head". (One old Dutch dictionary also mentions smart as one possible additional definition for boos)

I just found this interesting, searched a bit, and figured maybe someone else would find it interesting too.
posted by blub at 1:23 AM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

in regular Dutch you would never ever use the world bolletje when you mean head
We do use it, but it's a colloquialism that is mostly used towards children. I can easily imagine someone telling a child to put a hat on their bolletje because it's cold outside. And bol (the non-diminutive form) for head comes up in a number of expressions.

Good sleuthing on 'boze bolletje' vs 'bolleboos' though. It does sound likely that 'boos' is linked to 'smart'.

Or it could be a song that parents used to sing to get their children out of a bad mood or tantrum.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:41 AM on April 5, 2014

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