Talk:a little bird told me

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Given that fairy tales and other children's fiction constantly use talking animals, including birds, I would think that this would be a reasonable possibility. In my mind, I remember it as 'a little birdie,' suggesting an adult talking to a child, which also fits with children's fiction. 02:26, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

There are many variations and it's not plausible to put all in a dictionary. The birdie variation is noted in the entry in case you haven't noticed. JamesjiaoTC 02:39, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Reference to "Dutch saying" in etymology of "a little bird told me"[edit]

The etymology of this expression includes the remark that "Others believe that it originates from the Dutch saying Er lif t'el baerd 'I should betray another.'" A typical Dutch translation of the English clause would be more like Ik zou een andere verraden--which clearly bears little resemblance to the cited non-English expression. In fact, nothing about Er lif t'el baerd bears much resemblance to Dutch. Perhaps this statement needs some further research and verification, and possibly a correction? Jeannette (talk) 22:28, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

I think you are right... The only thing that might be Dutch is "baerd" but that's an archaic spelling of baard (beard) so that doesn't make much sense either. I've removed it. —CodeCat 22:51, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
I think it traces back to this 1837 source which makes some really bad assumptions about the historical linguistics of English and its near relatives and should be viewed as a quaint relic of an earlier level of knowledge. You'll note, though, that the Dutch phrase and its translation have been mangled a bit in the process of getting to our entry, so it's not quite as far-fetched as it seems (which isn't saying a lot). Chuck Entz (talk) 23:56, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
It is perhaps not as far fetched as the 'Dutch' being 'quoted' in that book.... It is pretty hilarious, actually. Dutch? Ehm, no not really... Jcwf (talk) 00:06, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Given the earlier date, and the wide range of colloquial usage of "Dutch", it could be accurate for some historical or regional variety of Dutch, Frisian or Low German, but the author doesn't seem to be exactly a world-class expert on anything much (at least by modern standards), so it wouldn't surprise me if it were totally botched. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
After looking up w:John Bellenden Ker Gawler, I realize I've come across his author abbreviation in botanical works, so he's got genuine credentials as at least an amateur botanist. The Wikipedia article does comment on the ineptitude of his nursery-rhyme work, though, which involves a truly awful attempt at reconstructing "Low Saxon", so I think we're both vindicated, otherwise. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:45, 19 January 2013 (UTC)