Thursday, February 25, 2010

The queen was in the parlour...

In the last couple of posts, I've been having a little fun with references to the old nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence"...

The painting above is called “The Queen Was In The Parlour.” It was painted in 1860 by Valentine Cameron Prinsep (1838-1904) and it hangs in the Manchester City Art Gallery in Jolly Olde England. So says Wikipedia, except for the Jolly Olde part, which I added on my own, just because I felt like it. The painter was born in Calcutta, but died in London, which only goes to prove that the saying “All roads lead to Rome” plays havoc with the truth.

Wikipedia also says that in Bahasa Melayu (Malay language), there is a slight variation of the “Sing a song of sixpence” song called “Lagu tiga kupang” (Three penny song). Here’s the Malayan version:

lagu tiga kupang - three penny song
saku penuh padi - pocket full of rye
enam ekor burung - six birds
masuk dalam kuali - go into frying pan

bila sudah masak - when it is cooked
burung nyanyi saja - the birds sing
tentu sedap makan - it must be delicious to eat
beri pada raja - give it to the king

raja dalam rumah - king in the house
buat kira-kira - doing calculations
suri dalam dapur - queen in the kitchen
makan roti gula - eating sugar bread

dayang tepi kolam - maid beside the pond
mahu jemur tepung - want to dry out the flour
datang burung hitam - the black bird come
patuk batang hidung - peck at her nose
hidung, hidung, hidung... - nose, nose, nose...

I would like to stay and play longer, but this raja must be about his kira-kira. I cannot go, however, before pointing out that in translation from English to Behasa Melayu several changes occurred. Six became three, twenty-four became six, pie became frying pan, parlour became kitchen, garden became pond, and hanging out the clothes became want to dry out the flour.

No wonder international diplomacy is so difficult.


  1. What a lovely, playful mind you have! I so enjoy its convolutions.

  2. Isn't this a chicken and egg question? Did Malayans simply play around with the English version or did they conceive the original?
    Regarding "Jolly Olde" England, I am tempted to prefix USA with a couple of similarly unsuitable adjectives but Mr Obama might press the red button!

  3. jinksy, thanks (I think).

    YP, you may be right about the chicken and egg thing. I didn't realize that "Jolly Olde England" was a pejorative, but your threat of "similarly unsuitable adjectives" is a wake-up call. I apologize. I didn't know. In the future I shall reserve those adjectives for fat men in red suits who enter houses via chimneys during the Christmas season.

  4. I love sugared bread. My mom used to butter a slice of bread and spread sugar on it for a snack. Yum.

  5. so the queen was in her parlor,was she???????????on this 500 biz, you are so right, but i don't know if i intended to ever get their anyway, you kind of read my mind, if i have enough writing that doesn't qualify towards the 500, then it may take years, but bob, don't you ever think of quitting, surely you do???

  6. I have a followe (All Consuming) who lives in Manchester, so I'll pass the painting on to her and see if she recognizes it.

    I wonder if the painter, though born in India, was English...

  7. Rosezilla (Tracie in Florida), my dad used to put sugar on freshly sliced tomatoes. You should try that!

    Putz (David in Utah), sometimes I think of quitting, but I lie down for a few minutes and the feeling passes.

    Snowbrush (You There in Oregon), according to (who else?) Wikipedia, Val Prinsep was "a British painter of the pre-Raphaelite school." His parents were Henry Thoby Prinsep and Sarah Monckton Pattle, and Sarah's sister Maria was the grandmother of Virginia Woolf. Your new trivia fact for the day!

  8. And now my next post shall be about the Pre-Raphaelites, one of my favourite periods, thanks to my dear friend Snow pointing me in your direction, and asking me if I know said painting. I certainly do, there are a few beautiful ones in the gallery here actually so I'm quite lucky there.
    Thank you for the lovely comments, Michelle (in 'about-as-jolly-as-my-bum' England).

  9. All, welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. Nice to meet you. You have a wonderful blog.

  10. I thankee kindly good sir! *curtsies.

  11. yes on my blog i do know you were just kidding, these were my goals when i was 18 years old and had my church training of being a good smararitian and giving until it hurt, and i was nieve enough to beleive everyone would be all right if everyone was weel fed, happy and contented, so it is my ideal which i haven't worked on very much burt ddeep in my heart i still feel that way , that is why i wanted equal health care for everyone:::::::::regardless

  12. a malaysian the way,refer to that 'lagu 3 kupang' song, we are not translate it equal to the original song and we are not simply play around with the english version. if, its true we are copying from english version, i think we change it equal to our environment and rhyming quatrain with inner assonance (if u hear it properly).im surprised it has in the other version!