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© 2019

Games, Rhymes, and Wordplay of London Children

  • Janet E. Alton
  • J. D. A. Widdowson

Benefits

  • Makes available a unique and extensive fieldwork project conducted with London school children between 1962 and 1984

  • Presents a detailed snapshot of changes in the traditions and language of young people through an overview of traditional play and lore, illustrating development over a period of some twenty years

  • Provides a valuable new resource on childlore and points to directions for further research, exploration and analysis of the data

  • Offers a representative range of material from a specific age-group to allow for exploration of factors such as geographical spread, broad social groupings and the gender of individual contributors

  • Contextualises the data within a range of existing studies in Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the English-speaking world

Book
  • 1.6k Downloads

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-lvi
  2. PART I

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-2
    2. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 3-10
    3. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 11-53
    4. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 55-138
    5. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 139-237
    6. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 239-269
    7. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 271-341
    8. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 343-390
  3. RHYMES, SONGS, BELIEFS, AND WORDPLAY

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 391-391
    2. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 393-453
    3. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 455-526
    4. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 527-579
    5. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 581-741
    6. Janet E. Alton, J. D. A. Widdowson
      Pages 743-778
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 779-835

About this book

Introduction

This book presents a unique annotated collection of some 2000 playground games, rhymes, and wordplay of London children. It charts continuity and development in childlore at a time of major social and cultural change and offers a detailed snapshot of changes in the traditions and language of young people. Topics include: starting a game; counting-out rhymes; games (without songs); singing and chanting games; clapping, skipping, and ball bouncing games; school rhymes and parodies; teasing and taunting; traditional belief and practice; traditional wordplay; and a concluding miscellany. Recorded mainly in the 1980s by primary schoolteacher Nigel Kelsey, transcribed verbatim from the children’s own words, and accompanied by extensive commentaries and annotation, the book sets a wealth of new information in the wider historical and contemporary context of existing studies in Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the English-speaking world. This valuable new resource will open new avenues for research and be of particular interest to folklorists and linguists, as well as to those working across the full spectrum of social, cultural, and educational studies.

N. G. N. Kelsey worked as a primary school teacher in London from 1952 until his retirement in 1982. During this time, he collected examples of the language and lore of the children under his care.

Janet E. Alton is an independent researcher based at the Centre for English Traditional Heritage, UK. 

J. D. A. Widdowson is Director of the Centre for English Traditional Heritage, UK.

Keywords

ball games songs rhymes language in use youth language childlore Centre for English Traditional Heritage London cultural history Inner London Education Authority ethnography cultural anthropology parody folklore sociology of childhood history of childhood traditions and language of young people traditional play

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

Editors and affiliations

  • Janet E. Alton
    • 1
  • J. D. A. Widdowson
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for English Traditional HeritageEdale, Hope ValleyUK
  2. 2.Centre for English Traditional HeritageEdale, Hope ValleyUK

About the editors

N. G. N. Kelsey worked as a primary school teacher in London from 1952 until his retirement in 1982. During this time, he collected examples of the language and lore of the children under his care.

Janet E. Alton is an independent researcher based at the Centre for English Traditional Heritage, UK. 

J. D. A. Widdowson is Director of the Centre for English Traditional Heritage, UK.

Janet E. Alton and J. D. A. Widdowson have collaborated on projects and publications in linguistics and folklore for over forty years, within the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (NATCECT) at the University of Sheffield, which Professor Widdowson founded in 1964 and directed until 2004. Janet Alton took a master’s degree in NATCECT, later appointed Honorary Research Associate, and a Leverhulme Fellowship enabled her to begin adding the wealth of annotations and references to Nigel Kelsey’s basic collection. Professor Widdowson founded the Centre for English Traditional Heritage (CETH) in 2000 and he and Janet co-edit the Centre’s e-journal, Tradition Today. Professor J. D. A. Widdowson’s doctoral dissertation was on the traditional social control of children. He is an internationally respected scholar, author of a wide range of books and articles on English language, linguistics, and cultural tradition, and member of all the major learned societies in the field. Hon DLitt, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Hon DLitt, University of Edinburgh. Awarded the Folklore Society’s prestigious Coote Lake Medal in 2000.

Bibliographic information

Reviews

“Games, Rhymes and Wordplay of London Children is an extensive collection of approximately 2,000 games, songs, rhymes, and wordplay. … He supported his documentation of games, rhymes, and songs with a clear description of his methodology, making this a particularly valuable resource for those working in the field of research into children’s cultures and education.” (Athena Lill, Folk Music Journal, 2021)