Author Topic: How shepherds count..  (Read 2926 times)

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Offline Kevsussex

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How shepherds count..
« on: April 22, 2012, 19:04:53 pm »
How Sussex Shepherds counted to 20...

One-erum
Two-erum
Cock-erum
Shoe-erum
Sith-erum
Sath-erum
Winebury
Wagtail
Tarrydiddle
Den

OK so thats just 10 - but they used to count the sheep past in twos!

Online Pete

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2012, 09:23:36 am »
How did they manage if they stuttered?  ;D
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Offline chasg

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2012, 09:48:02 am »
There was an article in Bygone Kent years ago about the way Kent shepherds counted. They started yan, tan, tethera, pethera, pimp, but I can't recall it beyond that.

Offline John

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2012, 10:03:25 am »
Just imagine the fun when a Kent shepherd bumped into his Sussex counterpart  :D
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline pomme homme

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2012, 10:30:33 am »
......and even more fun when a Sussex shepherd tried to buy a number of sheep from a Kent shepherd or vice versa!

"I wants shoe-erum"
"Sorry, I've only got pethera for sale"

Offline chasg

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2012, 11:12:54 am »
I can't find that Bygone Kent but I Googled "yan tan tethera" and came up with several hits, and most sources seem to agree that it has a Yorkshire/Cumbrian origin.
One source gives one to ten as yan, tan, tethera, pethera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick. The only sources that go beyond that give all sorts of regional variations but all are something like yanadick, tanadick, tetheradick, petheradick, bumpit, yanabumpit, tanabumpit, tetherabumpit, petherabumpit, jiggit. At which point the shepherd would pick up a handy stone, drop it in his pocket, and start again at yan.

Online Pete

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2012, 11:54:55 am »
This is reminicent of th Yingtong Song  ;D
Sussex Bonfire - a way of life, not just for Nov 5th

Offline pomme homme

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How shepherds count..
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 11:21:37 am »
yanadick, tanadick, tetheradick, petheradick, bumpit, yanabumpit, tanabumpit, tetherabumpit, petherabumpit, jiggit.

Quote
This is reminicent of the Yingtong Song

No it isn't. I've tried it to the music. It doesn't scan!

Offline John

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Re: How shepherds count..
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2017, 17:53:28 pm »
Bexhill-on-Sea Observer - Saturday 04 May 1935

Counting Sheep.
The method of counting sheep in the olden days is the subject of an interesting article by Mr. James White in the May number of the "Sussex County Magazine" (which is an excellent issue). The shepherds never used ordinary figures, but enumerated the sheep by saying:

Wintherum, wontherum, twintherum, twontherum, wagtail, whitebelly, corum, dar, diddle, den, etherum, atherum, shootherum, cootherum, windbar, bobtail, inadik, dyadik, bumpit, ecack—tally.

This counted 20 sheep. At the word "tally" one finger of the left hand was raised and the whole of the list was repeated. On reaching the end a second finger was raised. When all the fingers and the thumb of the left hand had been brought into action that accounted for 100 sheep, which had passed under the crock. The right hand provided tally for the second hundred.
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline John

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Re: How shepherds count..
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2018, 07:55:57 am »
Worthing Herald - Saturday 04 May 1935

Sheep Counting.

Instead of counting one, two, three, four, five, as we do to-day, Sussex shepherds in the old days, with little education, employed a system which their forefathers had used for many generations when counting sheep. They would say wintherum, wontherum, twintherum, twontherum, wagtail, and probably chant it to some sort of tune which is now lost.

Writing on the subject of sheep counting in the May issue of "The Sussex County Magazine," Mr James White states that some years ago he met an old man who in his youth was a shepherd boy on the Downs, at Saddlescombe. He told him that when he counted the sheep he never used the ordinary figures which he had learned at school, but was taught by his father who was head shepherd at another farm. In addition to the words used he would say: whitebelly, coram, dar, diddle, den, etherum, atherum, shootherum, cootherum, windbar, bobtail, inadik, dyadik, bumpit and ecack-tally.

"This counted twenty sheep, each word representing one," writes Mr White. "At the word 'tally' being reached, one finger of the left hand was raised, and the whole of the foregoing list was repeated. On reaching the end the second finger was raised. When all the fingers and the thumb of the left hand had been brought into action, that accounted for one hundred sheep which had passed under the crook. The right hand provided 'tally' for the second hundred."

From Early Days.

Another table which was formerly used for sheep counting in Sussex introduces expressions of a similar type, carrying the counting forward two at a time.

"It is certain," Mr White points out, "that these forms of counting were in use in the very early days of the ancient Britons, and though we may not find them in use to-day on the South Downs, they are still known in the Welsh Highlands, and the dales of Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire."
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline pomme homme

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Re: How shepherds count..
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2018, 18:48:40 pm »
A few days ago I was watching a 1950s 'short' on the Talking Pictures television channel. It concerned sheep farming in the Australian outback. At one point they showed sheep being moved from one enclosure to another with a shepherd manually counting the shhep as they passed through the gate between the two. His method of counting was to drop a stone into his pocket every time a certain number was reached. You could hear him counting and I'm pretty sure that he was employing the yan, tan, tethera method or, at least, a close relative of it. It also featured some rather smart sheepdogs riding pillion (well, to be truthful they rode on the tank) on the BSA motorcycles that the shepherds rode to check the boundary fences of the sheep station.

Offline John

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Re: How shepherds count..
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2023, 15:29:51 pm »
Bumfit  ;D
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Offline seletin

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Re: How shepherds count..
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2024, 21:35:49 pm »
Un, dau, tri ... deg is pretty much the same as present-day Welsh.