A gentleman wrote to me asking about an Afrikaans lullaby that his mother sang to him about 70 years ago. Here it is...


Professor Crous has provided the following information...

1. This song was written by one of South Africa's best known Afrikaans writers, C. J. Langenhoven.

2. The suffix -tjie used in many of the nouns, is a diminutive suffix which is untranslatable in English. Rather then translating it with "little" or "small", the plural form was used.

3. The words "lamtietie damtietie" are pet names for a baby, which are also untranslatable.


Here is the song with the other verses in Afrikaans...

Afrikaanse Wiegeliedjie
Lamtietie Damtietie

Written by C. J. Langenhoven
Composed by Emiel Hullebroeck

Lam-tie-tie, dam-tie-tie, doe-doe my liefstetjie,
Moederhart-rowertjie, dierbaarste diefstetje!
Luister hoe fluister die wind deur die boompietjie,
Heen en weer wieg hy hom al oor die stroompietjie:
Doe-doe-doe, bladertjies, Slapenstyd nadertjies,
Doe-doe-doe blommetjies, Nag is aan't kommetjies,
So sing die windjie vir blaartjies en blommetjies.

Bo in die bloue lug flikker die sterretjies,
Hemelse brandwaggies, lampies van verretjies,
Wakend oor windjies en wolkies en stroompietjies,
Wakend oor mensies en diertjies en boompietjies:
"Wees maar gerustetjies, Slaap maar met lustetjies!"
So sing die sterretjies, Stilletjies, verretjies:
Vuurvliegies, lugliggies, ewige sterretjies!

Onskuldig ogies en voetjies en handetjies,
Wie weet hoe ver moet my kleintjie nog ganetjies!
Ver deur die wêreld en kronkels en gangetjies.
Bly tog maar kleintjies en bly dit maar langetjies.
Bly maar by moedertjie, Kindlief se hoedertjie,
Slaap in haar arrempies, Saggies en warrempies,
Doekies dan, doekies in moeder se arrempies!

Stefaan sent a translation of the 2nd two verses which I edited below
(we welcome comments and criticism on the translation):

2. Up above in the blue sky the little stars twinkle,
Heavenly sentinels, little lamps from afar,
Watchful over little winds and clouds and streams,
Watchful over little humans and animals and trees,
"You can be quiet, you can sleep with pleasure"
So sing the little stars, quietly, far way
Fireflies, air lights, eternal little stars!

3. Innocent little eyes and feet and hands,
Who knows how far my little one still has to go!
Far across the world, and windings and little corridors.
Just stay little and stay like that for a long time,
Just stay with little mother, the keeper of dear child,
Sleep in her little arms, softly and warmly,
Sleep then, sleep in mother's little arms!

Note on Translation:
Stefaan speaks Dutch and based his translation on Dutch, which is similar to Afrikaans. Stefaan wrote:

"...in order to rhyme in Afrikaans, every sentence ends with -tjies (plural diminutive meaning "little"), even for words where it makes no sense in Dutch and, I suspect, in Afrikaans, such as "lang" (long), "ver" (far) or "gaan" (go). I've translated at most one little per line, because it would sound rather drawn out in English otherwise.

- I'm not 100% sure what "brandwaggies" are. "Brand" means fire, and I suspect it's the same as the Dutch "brandwacht", firefighters in the past that walked around in wooden cities at night to detect fires. On this page...
..."brandwag" gets translated as "sentinel", which I thinks matches the guarding at night better than "firefighter".


Here's another translation of the 2nd and 3rd verses by Elsabé Van Der Merwe:

Up in the blue sky the stars are twinkling,
Heavenly little firewatchers, lamps from afar
Watching over the winds, the clouds and the streams
Watching over people, animals and trees:
"Be at peace, sleep well!"
So sing the stars, silently, from far:
Fireflies, skylights, everlasting stars

Innocent little eyes and feet and hands,
Who knows how far my little one still has to go!
Far across the world and winding roads and aisles.
Rather stay small and stay so for long.
Rather stay with mommy, child-love's protector,
Sleep in her arms, soft and warm
Sleep now, sleep in mother's arms!

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Professor Crous (professor of Plant Pathology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa), Edo Nyland, Leonie Steyn and Marisa (Sneakers Playschool, South Africa) for helping me find the lyrics to this song. I owe a special thanks to Professor Crous for the English translation and his interesting comments.

Thanks to Leonie Steyn for providing the other two verses to this lullaby. Thanks to Stefaan for providing an English translation of the 2nd and 3rd verses! Thanks to Elsabé Van Der Merwe for the alternate translation of the 2nd and 3rd verses and for suggesting improvements for the 1st tranalation!

Baie dankie!