Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
Altijd Is Kortjakje Ziek
(Dutch Kids Song)
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This is sung to the tune to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"...

Altijd Is Kortjakje Ziek
Kortjakje Is Always Ill
Children's Song
(Dutch)
Children's Song
(English)

Altijd is Kortjakje ziek,
Midden in de week, maar zondag niet.
Zondag gaat zij naar de kerk,
met een boek vol zilverwerk,
Altijd is Kortjakje ziek,
Midden in de week, maar zondag niet.

Kortjakje is always ill,
In the middle of the week, but not on Sundays.
On Sunday she goes to church,
With a book full of silver,
Kortjakje is always ill,
In the middle of the week, but not on Sundays.

Notes

Kirsten Kerkhof wrote the following about this song:

NOTE 1: In this song it was impossible to keep the rhythm and rhyme of the original, so here (above) is a literal translation.

NOTE 2: "Kortjakje" (here a name) means 'short bodice', referring to girl's clothing of by-gone times. A book full of silver means that her bible has been decorated heavily with silver, clearly showing that she is a wealthy young woman, who can afford being ill (lazy) during the week.

Comments

I asked another of our Dutch-speaking correspondents if there's an English translation of "Kortjakje". Here's what she wrote:

"In many translations, a name or designation of a person is kept as-is, and maybe that's smart:

It has been said that for centuries 'Kortjakje' has been associated with a female drunk. (wow...isn't that upbeat?) :-)

It would explain that she was sick during the week but not on Sundays - because then she went to Church. A 'jakje' was a short blouse and therefore, the song is also associated with a woman who was dressed poorly and provocatively.

Back in the 18th century the song had a different melody (that I'm not familiar with). Did you notice that the current melody is the same as: Abcdefg - Twinkle twinkle little star - Baa baa blacksheep and a few others..."

According to the Dutch Wikipedia, a version of this song (as sheet music) can be found in the Nijhoff collection (circa 1650-1750), but the lyrics have dramatically changed. It's also interesting to note that there are 73 known versions of this song.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Kirsten Kerkhof, from the Netherlands, for contributing this song. We also appreciate all of the commentary about this song.

Thanks to F. S. for the recording.

Dank u wel!

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