EARLY EXAMPLES OF THE CHILDREN'S RHYME "PUDDIN TANE"

Nov
3

EARLY EXAMPLES OF THE CHILDREN'S RHYME "PUDDIN TANE"

This post presents examples of the rhyme "Puddin Tane" (or similarly sounding words) from the 16th century to the mid 1960s and possibly later.

This post is presented for folkloric and recreational purposes.

Editor: Azizi Powell
Latest revision - November 3, 2012

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RELATED LINK
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-alley-kats-puddin-tain-sound... for a post on the 1962 doo wop song "Puddin Tain" by the Alley Kats. That post includes a sound file of the Alley Kats song and the lyrics of that song as well as a sound file of the 1962 cover of that song by The Kit Kats.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE RHYME "PUDDIN TANE"
"Puddin Tane" is the title of particular English language children's folk rhymes which are made up of smart alecky rhyming retorts to commonly asked questions. In each version of these rhymes "Puddin Tane" (or a similarly spelled second word) serves as the response which is given by the person who is asked the question "What's your name?". In that sense, "Puddin" is a male or female nickname and "Tane" is given as a last name.

Although it appears that all of the lines of that rhyme are now usually recited by the same person, "Puddin Tane" may have originated as a call & response dialogue rhyme (a rhyme in which each line is alternately spoken by one of two people).

Here's the short version of "Puddin Tane" that I believe is most commonly found at the present time in the United States. The lines that are spoken by the person responding to the questions are given in brackets:

What's your name?
[Puddin Tane
Ask me again
And I'll tell you the same.]

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ONLINE SOURCES OF THESE FEATURED EXAMPLES
Most of the examples presented in this page were posted by commenters on this
discussion thread that I started in September 2007 on the Mudcat Folk music & Blues discussion forum: http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=104417&messages=58
Folklore: Puddin Tane & Other Rhyming Sayings

The citations for other examples are given with the entries for those examples.

I've extracted these entries from that discussion thread which contained examples of other rhymes, and other comments. I then placed those examples in chronological order by the rhyme's date so that those examples & the information about them would be easier to read.

My thanks to all those whose examples & comments are re-posted on this page.

Additional early examples are welcomed and can be sent to cocojams.com via my email address cocojams17@yahoo. com

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COMMENTS ABOUT THE WORD "POONTANG" AND "PUDDIN TANE"
Some people have suggested that the words "Puddin Tane" in these rhymes come from the same source and has the same meaning as the word "poontang".

"Poontang" is a word that has sexual and sometimes racist meanings and/or connotations. It's my strong opinion that "poontang" and "Puddin Tane" don’t have the same origins (etymology) and usually don’t mean the same things in the context folk rhymes and songs. That said, sometimes people either confer poontang’s sexual and sometimes racially specific meaning to Puddin Tang or allude to poontang’s meaning in their use of the names Puddin Tane.

I doubt that very many people - especially children- who have recited or who presently recite that rhyme knew or know about the meaning of "poontang" or that it may be connected in any way with "Puddin Tang".

I think that the three main reasons why people believe that "Puddin Tane" and "poontang" mean the same things are
1. the similarity in similar spelling and pronunciation of those words
and
2. the general lack of knowledge about those words’ origins
and
3. the general lack of knowledge about centuries old “Puddin Tane” folk rhymes

There are a number of words and phrases which have very different meanings although they are spelled the same or similarly, and/or are pronounced the same or similarly. I believe that "Puddin Tane" and "poontang" are examples of this instances.

For more information about the meaning of the word "poontang" and the possible connections with the words "Puddin Tane", click http://www.takeourword.com/pt.html "The Etymology of Slang Sexual Terms", http://www.takeourword.com/Issue093.html , comment from Mike James, as well as various comments found on http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=104417&messages=58
Folklore: Puddin Tane & Other Rhyming Sayings

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FEATURED EXAMPLES OF "PUDDIN TANE"
These examples are presented along with any accompanying comments by their posters, and are presented in chronological order with the earliest examples by date of usage given first. There may be more than one version of this rhyme cited for example, which is why I used the term “entry” for each quoted comment.

ENTRY #1
From: http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0110A&L=ads-l&P=R5702 Doug Wilson posted on October 4, 2001

Subject:
Pudding tame
From:
"Douglas G. Wilson" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:
American Dialect Society <[log in to unmask]>

Date:
Thu, 4 Oct 2001 00:19:00 -0400

Of course in researching the history of "poontang" I came upon remarks to the effect that this word seems to be reflected in a children's rhyme (still current, I think) along the lines of
What's your name?
Pudding tame.
[Ask me again and I'll tell you the same.]

In fact "pudding tame" and variants (pudding/puddin' [and] tame/tane/tang) are used today with the sense "I won't tell you my name" (e.g., often as a 'handle' or pen-name on the Internet, = "Anonymous"). The expression was used in the "X-files" TV program in 1999.

The rhyme appeared in the US by 1895, when it was cited in "Dialect Notes". Already we're out of the "poontang" milieu, I think; but in case there's any doubt, I find quoted from 1861 a version supposedly from ca. 1825 (apparently from Sussex?):
What's yer naüm?
Pudding and taüm.

Back a little further (ca. 1590), I find reason to believe there was approximately:
[What is your name?]
Pudding of Thame.

Now at least the expression has some surface sense, maybe. Thame is a place-name -- in particular a town in Oxfordshire, I believe. So "pudding of Thame" might have been the name of a food, perhaps similar (or at least analogous) to Oxford sausage, say. Still the expression is meaningless in the context, and I wonder whether

(1) it might even earlier have been something else ("pudding at home"? "Pudding Tom"? "pudding time"?) which maintained the rhyme in some early or regional pronunciation, and whether
(2) there is some recognizable double-entendre or other joke here in16th-century (or earlier) English.

Any ideas?
-- Doug Wilson
-snip-
This is the complete post from that site. It was excerpted and referenced in a discussion of the word "poontang" by the "take my word for it" website whose link is given below. I've re-formatted this post to make it easier to read.

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ENTRY #2
From http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034 Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky*, posted by Jim Dixon, April 11, 2009

The quote from McDougal* reminds me of a parallel smart-alecky reply:
"What's your name?" – "Puddentain. [However you spell it.] Ask me again, I'll tell you the same."
I learned that from a "Little Rascals/Our Gang" comedy that was shown on TV when I was a kid in the 1950s. (Who said it? Stymie?)

– but it goes back at least to –

From The Beulah Spa (a play) by Charles Dance (London: John Miller, 1833):
MAG. ... What is her name?

HEC. Pudding and tame—if you ask me again I shall tell you the same.
(Sorry for the thread creep.)
-snip-
*I started that thread on "Down By The Banks" in August 2006 as a way of exploring the the origins of that handclap/handslap rhyme, but that thread mostly includes LOTS of examples of that rhyme. For those interested in more information about the sources for the "Down By The Banks..." rhyme, click http://cocojams.com/content/down-banks-hanky-panky-rhyme-sources

"The quote from McDougal" referred to an early source for the partner handclap rhyme & group handslap game "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky". "Thread creep" is when another topic is introduced to a discussion thread about a specific subject. Of course, the cocojams link which I've given on this page can be considered an example of "thread creep".

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ENTRY #3: Folklore: Puddin Tane & Other Rhyming Sayings [hereafter known as Mudcat: Puddin Tane], posted by Lighter, September 16, 2007

Alice Kane was born in 1908 and grew up in Ulster. Her book, Songs and Sayings of an Ulster Childhood, written with Edith Fowke, includes the following:

"What's your name?" - Mary Jane.
"Where do you live?" - Down the lane.

Her mother knew,

"What's your name?" - Curds and cream' (pronounced crame)
"What they call you?" - Pudgy dolly.

I suppose "call ye" sort of rhymes with "dolly."
Here in the States, Thunderbird wine (powerful and inexpensive)was marketed in the late '50s with the phrase, "What's the word?" "Thunderbird!
-snip-
“Uster” is a province in the northern part of Ireland.
Regarding, “Thunderbird”, see Entry #7.

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ENTRY #4
From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by kytrad*, September 15, 2007

Well I'm older than all of you, and our KY mountain village was quite isolated until just after the turn of the last century, early 1900s, thereabouts. We had never heard the word 'poontang,' but we did have the rhyme under discussion. Here's how it goes:

What's your name?
Puddin & Tame
Where d'you live?
Up the lane
Where d'you go?
Go to school
What d'you sit on?
Sit on a stool
What d'you look like?
Look like a fool!

There may have been one or two other rhymes in there- can't remember it all just now. It was said only for the fun of the rhyming, and sometimes for tricking someone into saying, "look like a fool," when all the gang would laugh at the joke.
-snip-
*”kytrad” is the Mudcat forum screen name for the acclaimed folk singer Jean Ritchie***

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ENTRY #5
From Mudcat: Puddin Tane], posted by maeve, September 13, 2007

My mother grew up in very rural Edgefield, South Carolina. She used to respond with, "Puddin' n' Tane, Puddin' n' Tane, ask me again and I'll tell you the same." She says it was used to be mean (as in an answer to a new student at school asking your name), or occasionally just to be a bit fresh. This would have been in the 1920s-1930s. She couldn't think of any other rhymed responses.

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ENTRY #6
From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by Azizi, September 1, 2007

The following examples are from this resource: Western Folklore, Vol. 13, No. 2/3 (1954), pp. 190-198 - "Children's Taunts, Teases, and Disrespectful Sayings from Southern California," by Ray B. Browne.

{h/t to Joe Offer for pointing out this article in his post on Mudcat's "Depression Era Children's song" thread}

[Note: the numbers ascribed to these examples by the article's author]

27a.
What's your name?
Pudd'n Tame.
Ask me again
And I'll tell you the same.

27b.
What's your name?
Pudd'n Tame.
Where do you live?
Down the lane.
Ask me again
And I'll tell you the same.

[footnotes: from California, also from Alabama, ca. 1935; cf. Musick, 432; for one version same, and one: "What's your name / John Brown / ask me again / and I'll knock you down."]

27c
What's your name?
President Monroe
Ask me again
And you still won't know.

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ENTRY #7
From Mudcat: Puddin Tane… These words were first posted by Snuffy and the ending rhyme was added by Bryn Pugh who indicated that he remembered that entire rhyme from 1949]

What's your name?
Mary Jane
Where d'you live?
Down the grid
What house?
Mickey Mouse
What number?
Cucumber
What street?
Pig's feet
What shop
Lollipop

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ENTRY #8
From Azizi Powell, remembrances from my childhood [Atlantic City, New Jersey, posted in comment form on Mudcat: Puddin Tane]

What’s your name?
Puddin Tane
Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same. [mid to late 1950s?]

also

What’s the word?
Thunderbird. [early to mid 1960s?]
-snip-
"Thunderbird" was (is?) a brand name for a cheap bottle of drinking alcohol]

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Editor’s note: No specific decade was given for these following entries. However, the posters indicated that they remember these rhymes “when I was a child” (or some similar statement).

ENTRY #9
From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by Guest, Young Buchan, October 7, 2007

As children in Suffolk, if someone asked 'What's your name?' we always eplied Puddeny Crane, from a rhyme which I always assumed was widespread, but may not have been, since I tried googling various bits of it and didn't get a huge response:
What's your name? Puddeny Crane
Where do you live? Down the lane
What do you keep? A little shop
What do you sell? Candy floss [or sometime lollipops]
-snip-
When I was an active poster on the Mudcat discussion forum (from 2004-2007) that forum had a considerable number of commentersfrom the United Kingdom. That probably is still the case now. For that reason, and because of the commenter used the words “candy floss” which aren't used in the USA, I believe that this poster meant “Suffolk, UK, and not Suffolk, Virginia (USA).

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ENTRY #10
From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by Guest Schuyer, October 11, 2010

I remember this from a song my sibling, friends, and I sang when we was in a kid. It went:

What's your name?
Puddin' Tane.
Where do you live?
Down the lane.
What's your phone number?
Cucumber.
What'd you eat?
Pigs feet.
What'd you drink?
A bottle of ink.

I believe there was also a part after saying "A bottle of ink" where we said "to make you stink" or something like that.

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ENTRY #11
From Mudcat-Puddin Tane , posted by Guest Patience, September 7, 2011

When I was a child, my Dad would teach me to say:

What's your name? Puddin' Tane.
Where do you live? Down the lane.
What's your number? Cucumber.
What do you eat? Bread and meat.

Hence, my Dad and one of the next door neighbors always used to call me "Puddin'".

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