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9. — Jack Sprat Cou'deat no fat, His wife coud eat no lean, And so, betwixt them
botk, They lickt the platter clean. Jackes praet Goed hiet nauw vat, 'Es huif goed
hiet nauw leen, End so betwisten bod 'T heilicht de platte er kleyn. In the doctrine
Wo aets hangh, wel hie sijgh in, Wyt bereed aen Bot er ; Hoe wel hij guit' et, Wijst
houde hier aen huif ; Hoe wel hij bij marre 'et Wijst houde hier aen wy-alf. To
cousin Cloddy hell is a trouble. To the man of the cowl [the friar] it serves as a
... point of sound to alve, surplice, and metaphorically the priest ; so that wye-alf (
holy incubus) becomes a sort of quibble or pun upon alve by this resemblance,
and sounds wife. Aen-huif, sounds a knife, for the k is notuttered by us in this
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Anyone who has enjoyed the mad book of "French" nursery rhymes, "Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames" by Luis van Rooten will love this account of the "Dutch" origins of, not only old English nursery rhymes, but also common phrases like "Raining cats and dogs", expressed in real Dutch words that sound like the original, but translate as something quite different!
It's a long read, and probably more meaningful if you speak Dutch, but good for a straight-faced laugh, if you know what I mean!
I was also impressed by some of the nursery rhymes that haven't survived into modern English, because they are so politically incorrect.