If you’re after in-depth information about hanky panky, tittle tattle, or even argy bargy then where better to look than the pages of SIL e-Books ? In particular, chapter 16 of ‘A Mosaic of languages and cultures: studies celebrating the career of Karl J. Franklin*‘ – ‘Helter skelter and ñugl ñagl: English and Kalam Rhyming Jingles and the Psychic Unity of Mankind’
Wherein Professor Andrew Pawley BA (NZ), MA, PhD (University of Auckland), FRSNZ, FAHA (Department of Linguistics College of Asia & the Pacific, Australian National University) examines English rhyming jingles such as dilly dally, rumpy pumpy, hocus pocus, nitty gritty and topsy-turvy.
He then compares them with those of Kalam, a language spoken by about 20,000 people living in the Bismarck and Schrader Ranges in SW Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. For example ;
Godey Bodey (to swing round like a propellor)
Gadal Badl (higgledy piggledy)
Cnaŋ Mnaŋ (to wear strings of beads that cross the chest and back diagonally) and, of course,
ñugl ñagl (resound, of the evening chorus of insects, frogs, etc. in the grasslands).
* The entire e-Bbook (476 pages) may be downloaded, for scholarly purposes only, from here.
Note: The bees’ knees means roughly the same as “the cat’s pajamas” i.e. the height of excellence.
BONUS (musical) : Rootin’ tootin’ Hurdy Gurdy music from Andrey Vinogradov.