Can Someone Help with a Sicilian Hand Game Possibly about a Lamb?

I recently received this question:

My grandfather used to play a hand game with me where he held my hand and with his finger made a circle in my palm, then put each of my fingers down, starting with the pinky. I can only say it phonetically as I do not speak Sicilian:

Catcja funtanedja
chifigi pecoredja
quisto lu fersja
quisto lu scorcha
quisto lu coche et
quisto lu mange
um um um um um

In English I think it said:

Here’s a little pond
The little lamb comes to drink
This one catches it
This one cuts it
This one cooks it and
This one eats it
Um um um um um.

Can anyone give me the actual words in Sicilian and tell me if I am right about my English translation?

Please comment below, if you can help out…

Thanks in advance!

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007 at 1:33 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Finger Plays, Games Around the World, Italy, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Patty Cake Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions, Sicilian, Sicily. 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.

10 Responses to “Can Someone Help with a Sicilian Hand Game Possibly about a Lamb?”

  1. Gen Says:

    Hello there- I have a similar question posted somewhere else in here. That posting led me to yours. A shot in the dark I took what you thought to be the English translation and stuck it into an online translator. Granted they could only translate it into Italian but this is what they gave me…

    “Qui è uno stagno che piccolo l’agnello piccolo viene bere questo lo interferisce questo lo taglia questo lo cucina e questo lo mangia”

    It doesn’t reflect exactly what you gave phonetically but there are some similarities. I might try taking this transaltion and a copy of your phonetic spelling and the English translation over to your local college or high school and see if you can hook up with an Italian or Latin professor who might be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck with the search-G

  2. Stephanie Pittman Says:

    I was just talking to my brother the other day about the “Sicilian hand game”, except, our Dad was born and raised near Udine, in NE Italy and spoke Furlan! It started with him making a fist and setting it down and then I would make a fist and set it on his first hand, then he would do the same to mine, finally I would round out the stack by placing my last fisted hand on his. During this time Dad would say, “Pignutte” 4 times. That is obviously my spelling…anyway, Dad would say something like, “Bors tu di bez, kikapring fravelle um bong tiron direlli. Dad told us that it meant we couldn’t talk or say even one word or laugh because if we did then he would singsong something about a lamb, and farine (flour?) and then he would pull my ear and say, “Say Baa” and he would pull my ear until I said it and then he would say something like, “ti te ti te morrar”. Unfortunately, we lost our Dad in 2001, he was almost 89 years of age. I don’t know if this helps, but, just so you know, it isn’t only Sicilian apparently. Also, as I got older, Dad told me the “old men” said it actually meant whoever “passed wind” first, (pardon me, I’d rather stick with the no talking!) Who knows, I’ve checked online dictionaries to no avail.

  3. michael Says:

    I remember my great grandmother singing me that song and tracing a circle in the palm of my hand. She was from a town called Pagino in Sicily. Phonetically it sounded like:

    Funda Nella
    Funda Nella
    Cadja Vega io Pegudelle

    If there was another part to that, I never heard it. That is the version I know. Roughly translated I was told it meant: Little fountain little fountain, this is were the lamb drinks.

    Hope that helps!

  4. michael Says:

    …ACTUALLY…I just found this on an Italian site ! Is this it? It is different than I remember but this is the authentic version. I’m sure the version you and I got were somewhat altered through the years.

    Fontanella bella bella
    qui ci beve la pecorella
    qui ci beve il maialino
    qui ci beve l’uccellino
    qui ci beve la sardina
    le tagliamo la testina!

  5. Sunny Says:

    My father used to play a game with us kids, stroking our cheeking and saying the following. I can’t find the correct italian words but the sounded like this:
    Mishamazoole
    katamenjot
    ponacas
    kachew
    nindachoo
    jutelawat
    and ended with
    domasot, domasot, domasot
    I would love to know what it means and if we have it correct!

  6. Amy Says:

    I asked this originally, and I think Michael and Gen got me closer! I bet my grandfather was saying “fontanella” and “pecorella” and certainly it could have been questo instead of quisto, and surely mangia was the last word. I’m sure the other phrases are variations that represent how these things are passed down in families! If anyone can get me closer with them I’ll be grateful! Thanks!

  7. daffy duck Says:

    I HAV NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT THIS I HAV NO CLUE WHAT GAMES siciliens play that are not hand games, like how we play hide and seek what do they do ?

  8. Nonna Says:

    I am a Great grandmother now and am also trying to remember how it goes, my mother was from Campo Basso region. She used to say to my children (it goes something like this, don’t know how it’s spelled but sounds like):

    Mooshe masshe…pane chashe..
    Pane riccot.. poof a LA bot poof a LA bot..poof a LA bot..

    I can’t remember all of it, but you take the baby hands in yours…
    Stroke both of the baby cheeks… as you’re saying first part, then you do your face…
    And back and forth..
    When you get to poof LA bot..you fill your cheeks with air
    And then as you say poof LA bot..you tap your face at the same time.. and let air come out..as you poof la..

    It’s hard to explain it. I did it with my children but it was so many years ago..
    Then you reverse it and stray with your face..then the baby’s ..and so on…

  9. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing Nina! If you’d like to videotape it we can add it so people can see how you did it. -Lisa

  10. Sheri Ostler Says:

    My great grandmother, born in the 1800’s, from Palermo Sicily would sing the song to me when I was very very little so I don’t remember any words… except something like Nanna manusca or nonna manusca or mano manusca ? Anyway – I remember making a fist with thumb sticking up and each person in turn grabbing the thumb in their fist and the next and so on and building up a tower with four hands or more if more were playing. Then somehow knocking on the ‘doors’ (closed fingers) on the different ‘floors’ of the tower and asking to come in. The fingers would open or not. All this time reciting Sicilian or Italian.

    I have also remembered, but only thru reading this website the game with the game with the Hanky mouse but nothing other than my great grandmother sending it across the room. Would like to know more of that too please. I watched the video of the old man with the baby and clapping hands and had ‘a tear.’ Thanks for this. I would love to know more about the thumb game. Grazie per te.

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