(Frequently Asked Questions)
What is Mama Lisa's World?
Mama Lisa's World is the internet's premier destination for children's songs from around the globe and for discussions of international culture. It features thousands of traditional songs from over a hundred countries and cultures and a major collection of English Mother Goose Rhymes. Mama Lisa's Blog focuses on global recipes and cuisine, holiday traditions, and lively conversations about childhood and customs around the world.
What was the guiding principle behind Mama Lisa's World?
The intent of this site is to give people a sense of the nursery rhymes and songs sung by or to children in cultures around the world. For example, "Yankee Doodle" is a little rhyme that all American children know and experience as a part of their childhood. Non-Americans can get a sense of a small part of the culture of the United States by reading or singing it.
How do you deal with the issue of translations?
We see the spirit of the rhyme as being more important than the literal meanings of the words. Obviously, no translation can do full justice to all the nuances and senses a rhyme or any other piece of art hits in its native language and culture. But we make do with what we can...
There are no rhymes from my country or culture. Why not?
Our ultimate goal is to post nursery rhymes and children's songs from every country and culture in existence! We know that's a tall order, but we can try. If your country/culture is not featured here and you'd like to contribute a children's song or rhyme, please write us.
Do you accept contributions of new songs for countries or cultures already featured on the site?
Yes! We are glad to accept new material, even if we already have some songs from a country or culture. If you'd like to contribute, please write us.
Are the comments presented with some of the songs and rhymes all from professionals who have studied them?
No. We're happy to accept interesting commentary from all sources. The materials presented on this site are very much part of popular, folk traditions. We do not believe any special knowledge is needed to contribute to our shared understanding of their places in all our lives and cultures.
Who is Mama Lisa?
Mama Lisa's real name is Lisa Yannucci. Lisa was inspired to start Mama Lisa's World in the late nineties when her young son first became interested in nursery rhymes. She recorded several Mother Goose songs onto a computer and programmed them to play when he clicked an image. He loved it and she became fascinated with the power of the internet to enrich the lives of children. She made the site public and has since used her background in languages and culture, and her talent as an illustrator, to oversee it's tremendous growth.
Does anyone else work on Mama Lisa's World?
The business and technical side of the site is managed by Lisa's husband, Jason Pomerantz, of Fiddle and Burn. Jason has worked in magazine, book and web publishing for nearly twenty years. He is also a writer, and his personal projects have included several websites and podcasts.
Our chief translator is Monique Palomares. Monique grew up at the crossroads of three cultures in the Occitan region of France. She is fluent in French, Spanish, English and Occitan and has a working knowledge of many other languages. Her years as a first grade teacher and her love of children and linguistics give her a unique insight into the power of music and song all over the world.
Some of the piano music seems pretty basic. Why not use more elaborate arrangements?
We purposely chose to present only the melody line for many of the songs. This was to give listeners who would like to learn them the simplest possible sources to begin with. If you would like to provide your own performance of a song, we're happy to post it.
How do I listen to the music on Mama Lisa's World?
There are two formats for the music on MLW. The first is midi, which pretty much all computers can play. Just press any button on the site that says midi format and you should be able to hear it. The main purpose of midi music is to let you hear the tune of the song.
The second format is MP3. If you see MP3 listed next to a song, that means that song has either a vocal or an instrumental recording that you can listen to.
I would like to thank everyone who helped me with this site, especially the contributors without whom none of this would have been possible.
Here’s the French poem Le Thé (Tea) by Théodore de Banville with an mp3 recording. After the poem you’ll find an English translation. MP3 of Le Thé Le Thé Miss Ellen, versez-moi le Thé Dans la belle tasse chinoise, Où des poissons d'or cherchent noise... Read more »
Here’s a lovely poem about The Wind by Robert Louis Stevenson with a couple of mp3 renditions. MP3 of The Wind 2nd MP3 of The Wind The Wind I saw you toss the kites on high And blow the birds about the sky; And all around I heard you pass, Like ladies’ skirts across the grass– O wind, a-blowing all day long, O wind,... Read more »
Here’s a little poem about clouds by Christina Rossetti. MP3 of the Poem "Clouds" Clouds by Christina Rossetti White sheep, white sheep, On a blue hill, When the wind stops You all stand still When the wind blows You walk... Read more »
Debra wrote asking for help with a Yiddish rhyme: The following has been passed down through the ages (at least 150 years) by my mothers family, though we can only guess what the words mean now or the correct spelling of the words. I am hoping you may recognize it or be able to decipher it... Read more »
Jeff wrote asking for help with a Yiddish song. Here’s his email: Hi, I grew up reciting a Yiddish rhyme or song where we pinched the skin on the back of each others hands and bobbed them up and down while saying something like (and I’m just writing what it sounded like): "Sipicle sipicle amadal, kimsimir and kamadal,... Read more »