Children’s jingles, ditties, and catcalls, if they date from earlier times, are a source of information for two kinds of studies. First, they can tell us about language usage and dialectical variation: What syllables used to rhyme but no longer do? Which rhyme in one dialect but not another? When were feet more salient than syllables? Are there words that have subsequently dropped out of use?

Secondly, such material is also a window on popular attitudes: Are deformed, impoverished, or unmarried people funny or unfortunate? How old or young must one be for marriage? Are rich people enviable or oppressive? How important are good looks?

This small collection provides a few examples. Brief introductions highlight some of the social issues raised. Obviously, Chinese popular verse was never limited to jingles. A separate collection on this web site involves more serious verse link.


Number Name Topic
1 A Visit to the Old Home New bride can't return home
2 A New Daughter-in-Law Sad Bride
3 No Girl Should Marry a Student Advice to Girls
4 Get Married, Get Married Girls should marry
5 O Little Soybean Worthless girls
6 A Certain Daughter-in-Law Ugly Husband
7 Little Red Boy Horny Child
8 We Raise Pigs To Eat Good Meat  Worthless girls
9 A Boy Named Joy Can't afford a wife
10 Eighteen Years Old Need to marry by age 18
11 The Lonely Bachelor Need for a wife
12 A Very Little Boy Wife as nursemaid
13 Joy in the Courtyard Sad Bride; Compassionate Groom
14 Very Odd Chain verse
15 A Bald Man Named Gāo Fickle gods
16 Grandpa’s Got Himself a Wife Matchmakers; remarriage
17 Branches of Fir and Cypress Sisters parting ways
18 Fat Boy for Sale Selling children
19 A Husband at the Well Wife as nursemaid
20 Dōng Go The Drums Worthless girls
21 I Could Be Your Mother Wife as nursemaid

Poems Exhibiting Gender Ambiguity

Number Name Topic
22 Hurry Home and Don’t Tell Anyone   Extramarital (gay?) tryst
23 Five Hakka Love Songs   Gender-Ambiguous Love

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