14 April 2015

Toes as Piggies Addendum

This Little Piggy (Drawn by artbybambi
 from www.pxleyes.com/drawing-picture/4e3652ed35108/This-little-piggy.html)
Developing last Friday’s blog post, Toe Lengths and You, I couldn’t help thinking of This Little Piggy, the nursery rhyme you recite while wiggling each of your toddler’s toes then tickling his or her foot.

This little piggy went to market/    (wiggle the big toe)
This little piggy stayed home/       (wiggle the next toe)
This little piggy had roast beef/     (wiggle the next toe)
This little piggy had none/             (wiggle the next toe)
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home!

                                           (wiggle the little toe and tickle the foot)

I’m almost certain my parents played that with me, but I don’t recall ever playing it with my daughter or son. As toddlers, they had more fun reading (e.g., Shakespeare), singing (e.g., polyphonic madrigals) and solving practical math problems (this preceded Common Core guidelines).

This Little Piggy History

All references I found to the rhyme’s origin reported nearly identical information. The earliest known printed version appeared in The Famous Tommy Thumb’s Little Story Book, published in London in 1760; however, the rhyme must have circulated well before that date. Its first line was quoted in a medley, The Nurse’s Song, written around 1728 and included by Allan Ramsay in the fourth volume of The Tea-Table Miscellany, published in 1740.

Although nursery rhymes of that era commonly conveyed historical events or were used to parody royalty or political events, This Little Piggy seems to have been a nursery rhyme pure and simple. With minor variations, the rhyme appeared in many late-18th and early-19th century collections. 

Example Music Rhyme Videos

Forgoing cartoon-type videos of the rhyme, I offer a children’s music version by The Wiggles, joined by Lee Hawkins, and a more adult if abbreviated version by Christina Aguilera, giving her impression of Britney Spears singing the song. The video with Ms. Aguilera, from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, runs 5 minutes, but This Little Piggy starts about halfway. (Along the way you’ll hear Ms. Aguilera’s spot-on impression of Cher singing the Folger coffee commercial.)

The Wiggles with Lee Hawkins singing This Little Piggy Went to Market. (Photo from www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMsAHD5_TOg)
Christina Aguilera doing musical impressions on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. (Photo from www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD2nOjV3AaI)

Selected background references:

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