Can Anyone Help with a Toe Rhyme called Tom Tiddler that’s Possibly Welsh?

Sam wrote:

Hi Lisa

My father is visiting his new grandson and counting his toes while saying, “Tom Tiddler, Marsh Mappler, Mappler How, How Hairy, Bow Bairy, Buttry Ghan, Ghan Gilvan, Gilvan Nod, Whisken Todd, We Ten Ten”. Spelling not-withstanding, what does this mean? Dad thought they were Welsh mountains, because the rhyme came from his great grandmother, who was welsh, but a Google search doesn’t bear this one out. Any ideas?

Sam Samuel Jenkins

If anyone knows the original country this rhyme comes from and/or what it means, please let us know in the comments below.


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 at 11:22 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Languages, Mama Lisa, Questions, Readers Questions, Wales, Welsh, Welsh Children's Songs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Toe Rhyme called Tom Tiddler that’s Possibly Welsh?”

  1. sel Says:

    I doubt very much that this is Welsh….we have no “v” in our language. I live here in Wes and have never heard of such names for mountains

  2. Ellen Dumm Says:

    I think this is the Welsh nicknames for toes that my grandmother taught me in Welsh. I’m not going to be able to write them in the correct Welsh language, so I’ll do it phonetically –

    Bis Boosten (Big Buster)
    Tom Schoonken (Tom something)
    Long Haary (Tall Harry)
    Short Daavey (short David)
    Willy bik bik bik (Willy something – can’t remember)

    If anyone has it in the original Welsh, would love to see it. Can’t find it online.

  3. Monique Says:

    Well, in my opinion, this is not Welsh. In Welsh, big is “braisg” or “mawr” and “bys” (not “bis”) means “finger” (a toe is “bawd” or “bys y troed” = ” finger of foot”; tall is “tal”, long is “hir”; short is “pwt” or “ber”… so I think that it’s good old English with Welsh names or a Welsh accent.

  4. Robin Says:

    I know a very similar version from my Northern Irish grandfather. Here is my best phonetic translation:
    Twoey Tit-la-match, Hopla, Hopla Hoy, How Harry, Bow Berry, Buttery Gan, Gan Gilbey, Gilbey Nod, Whiskey Todd, and Twoey Ten Again.

  5. Domi Says:

    That looks like English, this is a Welsh poem about toes –

    Fini, Fini, fawd
    Brawd y Fini fawd,
    Wili Bibi,
    Siôn Babw,
    Bys bach druan gŵr,
    Dal ’i ben o dan y dŵr.

    Which roughly translates as:

    Big vinny
    Big Vinny’s brother
    Will the smaller one
    John the baby
    and the little toe.
    [pitiful man,
    broke his head while carrying water.]

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