"When I was little (I'm 65 now) there was a finger rhyme I knew... This is what I remember (starting with the pinky finger)…" –Dorothy
Finger Naming Rhyme
James Sill has a version of this rhyme in his book, "The Wolfpen Notebooks, A Record of Appalachian Life" (1991):
In a book dating back to 1895, called "In the Okefenokee: A story of war time and the great Georgia swamp" by Louis Pendleton, the following version of this rhyme can be found:
According to Nicholas Orme in his book "Medieval Children" (2003):
"There were medieval names for the fingers – thumb, toucher or lick-pot [ie. the pointer], longman or middle mast, leche or leche-man and little-man – which must have been learnt by children, perhaps in a list or rhyme."
"Lick-pot-finger" is given as an old word for the forefinger in a book from 1847 called, "A dictionary of archaic and provincial words, obsolete phrases, proverbs, and ancient customs, from the fourteenth century" by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps.
Dorothy wrote: "I would never have guessed that this rhyme started in Appalachia or the south. I lived in the Northeast (New York and New Jersey) when I learned this."
My family is from Arkansas. Here's the finger rhyme, starting with the pinky;
A little um
A lang um
You can find man more rhymes like this on Mama Lisa's World Blog at The Origins of Some Scandinavian Finger and Toe Naming Rhymes.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Many thanks to Dorothy Kane for contributing this rhyme and to everyone else for sharing their versions!