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Onderwerp: Song Dutch grandmother sang
(23 januari 2019)


Hello,

I am trying to locate the words to a song that my Dutch grandmother sang to me when I was very young, approximately 44 years ago. I am unsure if it was considered a lullaby or if it was something else and none of the remaining family remembers it.

It sounded like:

'Cal ya da, cal ya da, strawcha'.

It also mentioned 'opa and opoe too'.

I have no idea what the words were or the meaning, I only remember the sound of the phrases. The above is the best I could spell the words phonetically.

Any help or insight you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,

Heather (Arizona).





Answer     (24 januari 2019)


Hello Heather,

I can't recognise a song in these words, but I recognise some of the words. Like 'opa en opoe' means 'granddad and grandma' (but not in Standard Dutch, in dialect). Then the word 'strawcha' sounds to me a little bit like 'straatje', meaning: 'little street'.

So I've been searching for you in the Dutch Song Database for songs with the word 'straatje' in the first line. And among the hundreds of hits, I found one song that vaguely resembles your phonetic words:

'Kuiere, kuiere, straatsje / Wij ginne om een praatsje'
And a later line says:
'Nei pake ta, nei beppe ta',
meaning: going to grandpa, going to grandma.

This is not Standard Dutch, but Frisian. Do you know if your grandparents were from Friesland or Groningen?

You'll find the five variants that the Song Database collected here:
liederenbank.nl/31939

If you click on 'audio', you'll hear the recording of an old lady, singing the song as she remembers it (this can be a little bit different than you remember it; we don't have the original song anymore, just some later variants).

If you click on 'transcr' you'll see the notes and the text of two variants. Maybe you'll recognise some of it.

If you think this is the song you were looking for, let me know and I'll try to translate it for you (although my Frisian is limited). If it's not the song you were looking for, I can search again, hopefully you can remember some more words.

I hope this was the song you were looking for! With kind regards,

Rozemarijn (rosemary).

Dutch songs with English translation  (dutchsongs.overtuin.net)





Answer     (26 januari 2019)


Thank you very much!

That sounds very much like the same song... the last audio version is the closest. I think grandma just changed the words a little, using "opa and opoe" in her version. I would love to have the translation as best that you can provide.

Thank you so very much for your help! I was afraid it had been lost forever. Now I can sing it to my grandchildren!

Best regards and great thanks!

Heather.





Answer     (28 januari 2019)


Dear Heather,

I'm glad it was the right song after all! I never before was able to find a song with only one word to go by.

First about the content of this song: although it's a children's song, it's not a lullaby. It's about a child that has to be a little bit older, visiting her grandparents and talking and drinking coffee with them. The grandparents clearly pamper her, with a piece of cake (maybe something like Frisian gingerbread or 'ontbijtkoek', 'cinnamon cake'/'pepper cake') and sugar.

Then about the origins and dating: this has not been a well-known song in the Netherlands. It was written down from oral tradition only four times, every time in Friesland (Friesland nowadays is a province in the north of the Netherlands, but still has it's own language). Only one song book has published this song, titled The Frisian boat. All recordings were around the first half of the 20th century, so this was probably a song from around or just before 1900.

But the words your grandmother sang, 'opa en opoe', are not Frisian (grandpa and grandma are in Frisian: 'pake en beppe'; in Dutch 'opa en oma'; in dialect: 'opa en opoe').
Maybe she had Frisian family, but didn't speak it herself.

Below this mail I've written a translation from Frisian to English and also to Dutch (maybe you recognise that better than Frisian).

I hope you enjoy singing the song with your grandchildren! Forget about the version you heard in the Song Database and sing the song as you remember it - the recording is not the 'right' version, it's just another version of this song. It's your own version that will bring back the good memories you have of your grandmother, singing to you.

With kind regards,

Rozemarijn.

Dutch songs with English translation  (dutchsongs.overtuin.net)

---

In Dutch:

Kuieren, kuieren, straatje
Mientje gaat om een praatje
Naar opa en naar opoe toe
Koffie met een stuk koek daartoe
En dan krijgt ons Mientje daarbij
Nog een suikerpot van mij.

---

In English:

Strolling, strolling, little street
Little Mien * goes out to chat
To grandpa, to grandma **
Coffee with a piece of cookie/cake with it
And then gets our little Mien with it
Also a sugar bowl from me.

---

* Mien is a girl's name, short for Wilhelmina (popular especially before the 1960's).

Mientje is: little Mien (in Dutch, you can make a diminutive of every word, by simply putting -je or -tje behind it. For example: child: kind / kindje - street: straat / straatje).

Usually in these kinds of songs, the name was changed into the name of the child the song was sung to.

** nei .. ta: in Frisian is 'towards' broken into two pieces;
in Dutch: 'naar .. toe' ('naar opa toe')
something like ('to↔wards'): 'wards grandpa to'.









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