The jubremony: headghgh.

Matt at planetmut had a splendid post about newspaper typos back in 2018, although “typos” is a wan and inadequate term for what he documents. After a minor example from the BBC (“The speaking cock turns 75 years old…”) and an amusingly bollixed-up quote from Wolverhampton Wanderers chairman Sir Jack Hayward, he gets to the good stuff: a “classic example of a production error” from the Times & Citizen (a headline reading “headline headghgh”) and the real gem, from “a 1979 edition of the now sadly defunct Peterborough Standard.” It begins:

CROWLAND’S Silver Jubilee committee was finally wound up on Thursday evening with a presentation ceremony at the library.

The jubilee fund, described by chairman Frank Parnell as ‘one of the finest efforts in Lincolnshire’, fremony at the library.

The jubilee fund, described by chairman Frank Parnell as ‘one remony atremony aremony at the library.

The jubremony at the library.

Tremony at remony at the library.

Thrremony at tremony at the liremony at the libraremony at the library.

Theremony at the library.

But it goes on and on, culminating in an “almost poetic segue” that introduces an entirely new plotline. (Ironically and perhaps inevitably, the transcription of the article contains its own error: in “Thrremony at tremony at the liremoay,” the last non-word should read “liremony,” as I have indicated in my own version above — there’s a slight blotch on the n that made the transcriber read it as an a.) To add to the fun, there is a clip of it being read aloud. As Matt says, “This is just magnificent.” Thanks, Trevor! (I should note that Trevor sent it to me with the very apposite subject line “Gertrude Stein in Peterborough.”)


  1. Jen in Edinburgh says

    It’s like an AI hallucination from the days before AI…

  2. Exactly!

  3. Theremony

    I will sincerely hope against all odds that this is to be read as implying the involvement of theremins.

  4. cuchuflete says

    This reminds me just a little of a car ride with a nine year old boy, his three older sisters and myself. Imagine a 1964 Valiant with those triangular windows for ventilation. To avoid “are we there yet?” we sang.

    Yu tú durú
    tú durú, nuñu hurmusu
    tú durú unu cusu
    uno cusu cu yu su,u su

    Yo te daré
    te daré, niña hermosa
    te daré una cosa
    una cosa que yo sólo sé

    yi ti dirí
    ti dirí, niñi hirmisi
    ti dirí iñi quisi
    iñi quisi qui yi sili si

    and on and on through all the vowels.

  5. Jen in Edinburgh says

    The English equivalent I know starts ‘I like to eat, eat eat eat, I like to eat apples and bananas’, and goes on through ‘I like to oot, oot oot oot…’ and so on until you get bored or run out of vowels.

  6. The German equivalent is Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass.

  7. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Tre små kinesere på Højbro Plads
    sad og spillede på kontrabas
    Så kom en betjent
    spurgte hvad der var hændt
    Tre små kinesere på Højbro Plads.Same tune. And yes, fourth verse has too many feet. hvad er var hændt fits in the same notes as betjent, if you hurry.

  8. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Ooh, I had forgotten that I knew a Norwegian version of that – very similar except that it’s a konstabel who came along and spurte hva det var, which helps with the scanning.
    (Also I’m sure they were standing, but that might just be someone’s correction for sense, as if there was any. And I tend to get mixed up and sing Hambros Plass, but I think that’s just me.)

  9. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @Jen, it was probably stod og spillede in Danish as well; I was quoting from memory but the internet agrees with me; on the other hand, my Mom was now at hand and spontaneously continued the first line with stod. It was first published in 1945, WP says, but I do not have that book at hand. It’s not in the older collection of children’s songs that I do have.

    The internet also claims that it is så hvad der var hændt, which does fit the melody better. Do Norwegians rhyme konstabel with hændt (or however that’s spelled in Nw)? Konstabel is not used for police officers in Danish, it’s an army thing here.

    (A Danish-Swedish gotcha: ‘the constable’ is konstablen in Danish, but konstabeln in Swedish. That goes for most common gender nouns in -CVR).

  10. Trond Engen says

    Tre små kinesere på Høybro plass
    Sto og spilte på en kontrabass
    Så kom en konstabel
    Spurte hva det var
    Tre små kinesere på Høybro plass

    Line three can scan as the first half of line four and didn’t bother me. I remember reasoning that the ultimate original might have been English and had a rhyme scheme

    – square
    – there (e.g)
    – were
    – square

    Line four of the Norwegian version doesn’t rhyme with anything, which really bothered me. ‘Betjent’ in line three of the Danish immediate source is a relief.

  11. It rather looks to me that it was loosely translated from German, where all lines rhyme, ending in [as]:
    Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass,
    Saßen auf der Straße und erzählen sich was.
    Da kam die Polizei, fragt was ist denn das,
    Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass!

    Wikipedia supports a German origin; it looks like the first versions, which had Japanesen*) instead of Chinesen, are attested in North-eastern Germany in the early 20th century.
    *) That is an outdated form, in current German it’s Japaner.

  12. In the Hebrew version everything gets slightly smaller — only two Chinese, a big violin instead of a contrabass, and of course we’re limited to a paltry five verses rather than the majestic fourteen or whatever of the Scandinavian versions.

  13. I’d never heard of the Hebrew version until now.

  14. Trond Engen says

    the majestic fourteen or whatever of the Scandinavian versions.

    Hæhæ. Nine. I remember having sung it with the diphtongs as,well, but I think that came off as a tad too nerdy. And it’s hard to maintain through a series of weak syllables without losing the rhythm.

    Trøy smøy kjøynøysøyrøy pøy Høybrøy pløyss

  15. David Marjanović says

    Saßen auf der Straße und erzählen sich was.
    Da kam die Polizei, fragt was ist denn das,

    Saßen auf der Straße und erzählten sich was.
    Da kam die Polizei: “Ja, was ist denn das?

    I remember having sung it with the diphtongs as,well, but I think that came off as a tad too nerdy. And it’s hard to maintain through a series of weak syllables without losing the rhythm.

    In German it’s always sung with the three canonical diphthongs (disclaimer: last heard some 30 years ago). The difficulty is the point – the whole thing is intended as a tongue-twister.

    Dreu Keuneuseun meut deum Keuntreubeuß
    seußeun euf deu Streußeu eund euzeulteun seuch weus…

    …and the Wikipedia article bolsters my suspicion that mit dem (definite, which doesn’t make sense) is a southern misinterpretation of a northern mit ’nem (indefinite).

  16. erzählten
    Yes, the past tense is correct, my present tense was a typo.

  17. I got a standard reply in both English and Scots Gaelic as a reply to an email I sent to a researcher (a friend of mine) at University of Edinburgh email that ended with that:

    The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number [NUMBER]

    Is e buidheann carthannais a th’ ann an Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann, clàraichte an Alba, àireamh clàraidh [NUMBER]

    Can anyone tell me how authentic the Gaelic is? It’s an automated message, and all the rest is in English.

    She’s not a linguist, so I don’t want to bother her.

  18. As in, I messaged her on her professional email, (had to for reasons), and after the Bulgarian there was the English and the Scots Gaelic that were inserted automatically. How good is the Gaelic? The body of the message was in Bulgarian (with some English intersperced), but the English and the Gaelic postscripts got glued to the rest of it.

  19. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Danish is thoroughly monophthongized, so we only get like 9 verses. (Interestingly, the one for orthographical {a} is performed with [ɑ] throughout, which is not the most common allomorph [allo-phoneme?] In “real” words, the actual value of /a/ would change according to the environment. And because orthography, /ø/ and /œ/ only get one verse together [with [ø]]).

    This is actually (weak) evidence for Danish jV and vV being CV and not diphthongs at the phonemic level. Ditto Vj and Vv. Never mind that Trja smja kjanjasjarja would break all sorts of phonotactic constraints, especially the first two words, it doesn’t occur to anyone to try. (On the phonological level, they are probably diphthongs, if there is even any trace left of the approximants/semivowels after the rampant reductionism of the last century).

    (I’m talking about words like kvæle ‘strangle’ that also had kv- in ON. ON diphthongs like in stain have been monophthongized in East Nordic).

  20. PlasticPaddy says

    The first part seems ok, the University of Galway has
    Is carthanas cláraithe é Ollscoil na Gaillimhe. The difference is the Scottish text corresponds to a grammatical construction [COPULA] it organisation of charity [WHICH EXISTS] the U of E,. registered…,, whereas the Irish has [COPULA] charity registered it U of G. I would say the Scottish construction emphasises “charitable”, as opposed to a for profit organisation.

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