Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Score! and counting sheep in prehistoric languages

This first is a quote from the e-mail calendar I get, which is Page-a-Day's "Schott's Almanac" calendar.

In addition to inducing somnolence, sheep are counted by shepherds to audit their flocks. Traditionally, special counting terms were used which varied across Britain and within regions. Below is one of the many (now archaic) versions:

Isle of Man Sheep

20 sheep are a ‘score

Other thoughts on this, and other lists:


I will now take as an example one of the new sets of the score, which still " holds " with some of the old shepherds of Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Sheep

1. Yan. 

2. Tan.

3. Tethera.

4. Pethera. 

5. Pimp.

6. Sethera.

7. Lethera. 

8. Hovera. 

9. Covera. 

10. Dik.

11. Yan-a-dik. 

12. Tan-a-dik. 

13. Tethera-dik. 

14. Pethera-dik. 

15. Bumpit.

16. Yan-a-bumpit. 

17. Tan-a-bumpit. 

18. Tethera-bumpit. 

19. Pethera-bumpit. 

20. Figgit (sic, ?Jiggit).

Now this is Sandra again. I've heard often that "eeny, meenie, miney, mo" is from some forgotten counting system of ancient days. Why not? Makes sense.

But reading at the link above, there was mention of those numbers being used also by older women to count their rows of knitting and to amuse children. Because of that I propose an idea (and if anyone knows of documentation that I'm right, woohoo!): I think the "counting sheep" tradition is probably from this, and further I'm going to venture to guess that there was a tune or chanting rhythm that went with that counting and that parents or grandparents "counted sheep" until a child fell asleep, like a lullabye, and that children could do it too.

Counting sheep with regular numbers seems goofy, and few people know much about sheep anyway. But in sheep-raising areas, with traditional counting schemes, starting over every time you get to 20, it could be very lulling and comforting (and boring, and possibly musical).

As to "score," it's known that there were accounting sticks, "tally sticks," and I'm figuring "score" was to make a mark (representing 20) with a knife, or a rock on a stick, or another stick on the stick.... a literal score: a shallow cut.

No doubt a score or more of anthro- archeo- and historologists have all thought of these things, but it was fun to think of them myself, based on the randomish trivia I ordered up and the hundred-year-old account I googled up to go with it.

Tally stick images, some fancy ones and some plainer ones (photos are links):

And simple everyday tally sticks used to be marked like this sometimes:

Here's one for noting gold exchange: The marks were made on a whole stick, and then the stick was split so each in the transaction had a copy.

No image, but an article here talks about cricket scores being kept on tally sticks in the late 19th century.

Some sheep-counting sticks:
(you might need to click on the tally link there)
"In the Lake district the shepherds may still be heard counting sheep with the following words, some of which are like Welsh numbers: "Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pimp, Sethera, Lehtera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick, Yan-a-Dik, Tan-a-Dick, Tethera-a-Dick, Methera-a-Dick, Bumfit, Yan-a-Bumfit,Tethera-a-Bumfit, Methera-a-Bumfit, Giggot."

Sunday, January 20, 2008


This can go serious or silly or both, but I want to look at "Culture"—what it is and how people deal with it. Subcultures. Foreign cultures. Predominant Western cultural expectations.

What do anthropologists say is involved in culture?

How does a person learn the expectations of a subculture?

What does this have to do with yogurt and pearls?

Talk amongst yourselves here in public.

In finding the images and links, I did find that the motto of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is “By culture and merit.” I'm curious. Click the toga-thing for more on fraternity and sorority culture.

AHA!! I was waiting for someone to write something like this:
I know there are a lot of teens out there that don't want to interact with their parents, because they can't have an honest relationship with them. I believe our culture encourages the great divide between kids and their parents mainly by encouraging an authoritarian parenting/family style which pervades every segment of society. By this I mean, the schools, the workplace and social situations.
I think a lot of homeschoolers, especially unschoolers, have a culture unto themselves. It's a culture of mutual respect, communication, understanding, and cooperation. Sadly, I believe there are many, many kids out there who never get a chance to experience this culture in their lives and they will go on perpetuating the division between the ages.

The emphasis was added. The writing is by Meghan Anderson-Coates on the Always Learning list.

We're discussing this article which says kids don't want adults on MySpace of Facebook. That's here for those who are on Always Learning or might want to join to read the archives.

I let posts through from a guy running a wilderness camp who's pushing their encouragement of a culture of children. Here was his explanation, but nobody got back to him about it yet, I don't think. I've been merrily distracted with lots of fun stuff, myself.
By "children's culture" I mean a group of children with their own
culture. This happens wherever there are groups of children - they
have their own games, language, conflict-resolution techniques, ect.
We are intentionally trying to foster this, and the difference
between saying "we just want more kids" is that we know it's what
our children need. In school and in sports they are clustered into
peer groups where they learn they need to compete for
attention/acceptance. But humans weren't evolved to learn this way.
In the small clans where we evolved our natural learning styles
children would spend their days with those older and younger than
them, following in the example of the older and providing a bridge
for the younger.

What about the kids just being a part of the real culture? But I think at that camp even the adults don't want to be a part of regular culture. They're making their own too, but for some reason not all-in-one with the kids.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


A request for topic from Deb Cunefare: walls (because I've "run into" many recently)

What kinds of walls? Between fields? Of houses? Hadrian and China? Metaphorical or figurative? Fabled?

If this is making you think of songs about walls, go and play!
Also there are links from those four photos there, to the wall in York, Great Wall of China, stone walls in Ireland and a recycled concrete wall in Albuquerque.

The Great Wall of Target

Live links from comments (you can see commentary and intros below).
(that address was outdated but I think I have the link working anyway)


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