Thursday, November 20, 2014

Early Examples Of The Children's Rhyme "What's Your Name Puddin Tane"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents examples of the rhyme "Puddin Tane" (or similarly sounding words). These examples date from the 16th century on.

This post is presented for folkloric and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

These comments are presented in chronological order accordint to their posting date online, with the oldest comments given first.

From: [link no longer working]
Subject: Pudding tame
From: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Reply-To: American Dialect Society <[log in to unmask]>
Date: October 4, 2001
"Of course in researching the history of "poontang" I came upon remarks to the effect that this word seems to be reflected in a children's rhyme (still current, I think) along the lines of
What's your name?
Pudding tame.
[Ask me again and I'll tell you the same.]

In fact "pudding tame" and variants (pudding/puddin' [and] tame/tane/tang) are used today with the sense "I won't tell you my name" (e.g., often as a 'handle' or pen-name on the Internet, = "Anonymous"). The expression was used in the "X-files" TV program in 1999.

The rhyme appeared in the US by 1895, when it was cited in "Dialect Notes". Already we're out of the "poontang" milieu, I think; but in case there's any doubt, I find quoted from 1861 a version supposedly from ca. 1825 (apparently from Sussex?):
What's yer naüm?
Pudding and taüm.

Back a little further (ca. 1590), I find reason to believe there was approximately:
[What is your name?]
Pudding of Thame.

Now at least the expression has some surface sense, maybe. Thame is a place-name -- in particular a town in Oxfordshire, I believe. So "pudding of Thame" might have been the name of a food, perhaps similar (or at least analogous) to Oxford sausage, say. Still the expression is meaningless in the context, and I wonder whether

(1) it might even earlier have been something else ("pudding at home"? "Pudding Tom"? "pudding time"?) which maintained the rhyme in some early or regional pronunciation, and whether
(2) there is some recognizable double-entendre or other joke here in16th-century (or earlier) English.

Any ideas?
-- Doug Wilson
This is the complete post from that site. It was referenced in a discussion of the word "poontang" by the "take my word for it" website "The Etymology of Slang Sexual Terms." That take my word for it page included a hyperlink [that is now broken] to the comment that's given above along with this statement: "He [linguist Doug Wilson ] concludes that the two [poontang and Puddin Tane] are not related, and he gives some good evidence."
I've re-formatted this post to make it easier to read

From Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky, posted by Jim Dixon, April 11, 2009
The quote from McDougal* reminds me of a parallel smart-alecky reply:
"What's your name?" – "Puddentain. [However you spell it.] Ask me again, I'll tell you the same."
I learned that from a "Little Rascals/Our Gang" comedy that was shown on TV when I was a kid in the 1950s. (Who said it? Stymie?)

– but it goes back at least to –

From The Beulah Spa (a play) by Charles Dance (London: John Miller, 1833):
MAG. ... What is her name?

HEC. Pudding and tame—if you ask me again I shall tell you the same.
*The words "the quote from McDougal" refer to a blogger's comment that is unrelated to this subject.

From "Folklore: Puddin Tane & Other Rhyming Sayings" [hereafter known as Mudcat: Puddin Tane]
- posted by Lighter, September 16, 2007
Alice Kane was born in 1908 and grew up in Ulster. Her book, Songs and Sayings of an Ulster Childhood, written with Edith Fowke, includes the following:

"What's your name?" - Mary Jane.
"Where do you live?" - Down the lane.

Her mother knew,

"What's your name?" - Curds and cream' (pronounced crame)
"What they call you?" - Pudgy dolly.

I suppose "call ye" sort of rhymes with "dolly."
“Uster” is a province in the northern part of Ireland.

From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by kytrad*, September 15, 2007
Well I'm older than all of you, and our KY mountain village was quite isolated until just after the turn of the last century, early 1900s, thereabouts. We had never heard the word 'poontang,' but we did have the rhyme under discussion. Here's how it goes:

What's your name?
Puddin & Tame
Where d'you live?
Up the lane
Where d'you go?
Go to school
What d'you sit on?
Sit on a stool
What d'you look like?
Look like a fool!

There may have been one or two other rhymes in there- can't remember it all just now. It was said only for the fun of the rhyming, and sometimes for tricking someone into saying, "look like a fool," when all the gang would laugh at the joke.
*”kytrad” is the Mudcat forum screen name for the acclaimed American folk singer Jean Ritchie

From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by Azizi, September 1, 2007

The following examples are from this resource: Western Folklore, Vol. 13, No. 2/3 (1954), pp. 190-198 - "Children's Taunts, Teases, and Disrespectful Sayings from Southern California," by Ray B. Browne.

{h/t to Joe Offer for pointing out this article in his post on Mudcat's "Depression Era Children's song" thread}

[Note: the numbers ascribed to these examples by the article's author]
What's your name?
Pudd'n Tame.
Ask me again
And I'll tell you the same.

What's your name?
Pudd'n Tame.
Where do you live?
Down the lane.
Ask me again
And I'll tell you the same.

[footnotes: from California, also from Alabama, ca. 1935; cf. Musick, 432; for one version same, and one: "What's your name / John Brown / ask me again / and I'll knock you down."]

What's your name?
President Monroe
Ask me again
And you still won't know.

COMMENT #6: From Mudcat: Puddin Tane - These words were first posted by Snuffy and the ending rhyme was added by Bryn Pugh who indicated that he remembered that entire rhyme from 1949

What's your name?
Mary Jane
Where d'you live?
Down the grid
What house?
Mickey Mouse
What number?
What street?
Pig's feet
What shop

From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, Azizi Powell, remembrances from my childhood [Atlantic City, New Jersey,in the 1950s]
What’s your name?
Puddin Tane
Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same. [mid to late 1950s?]


What’s the word?
Thunderbird. [early to mid 1960s?]
"Thunderbird" was (is?) a brand name for a cheap bottle of drinking alcohol.

[Note: The last three commenters don't include any dates in their remembrances of these rhymes.]

COMMENT #8: From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by Guest, Young Buchan, October 7, 2007
As children in Suffolk, if someone asked 'What's your name?' we always eplied Puddeny Crane, from a rhyme which I always assumed was widespread, but may not have been, since I tried googling various bits of it and didn't get a huge response:
What's your name? Puddeny Crane
Where do you live? Down the lane
What do you keep? A little shop
What do you sell? Candy floss [or sometime lollipops]
I think this blogger means Suffolk, UK.

COMMENT #9: From Mudcat: Puddin Tane, posted by Guest Schuyer, October 11, 2010
I remember this from a song my sibling, friends, and I sang when we was in a kid. It went:

What's your name?
Puddin' Tane.
Where do you live?
Down the lane.
What's your phone number?
What'd you eat?
Pigs feet.
What'd you drink?
A bottle of ink.

I believe there was also a part after saying "A bottle of ink" where we said "to make you stink" or something like that

COMMENT #10: From Mudcat-Puddin Tane , posted by Guest Patience, September 7, 2011

When I was a child, my Dad would teach me to say:

What's your name? Puddin' Tane.
Where do you live? Down the lane.
What's your number? Cucumber.
What do you eat? Bread and meat.

Hence, my Dad and one of the next door neighbors always used to call me "Puddin'".

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  1. Been going through my childhood in my head recently (I'm in my 40's) and I remember my mother always saying the puddin tane line, "whats my name? pudden tane, ask me again and I'll tell you the same". I never knew where that came from, I figured it was an old child's saying. Thanks for filling in the gaps for me.

    1. You're welcome, Dan.

      I also remember this rhyme from my childhood (in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s.)

      That rhyme appears to have been fairly common along with other verses such as 'What I said, cabbage head" and "Where do you live. In a sieve.'

      I don't think I even knew what a "sieve" was. :o)

  2. Just read this great blog ... Love seeing the variety of responses from so many regions!

  3. Thanks for your comment, The Hills.

    I also like discovering how versions of a particular rhyme may change depending on the location, and also on the population and decade the rhyme was chanted.

    Unforunately, too few bloggers include demographical information along with their examples.

    Best wishes!

  4. My mother was born in the mid 1940s, when I was a child one of her many colorful "sayings" was, "what's your name"? "Puddin 'n Tane!
    "Where do you live?, I live in a hive!!
    I used to think she made it up, ands had no clue what the heck she was talking about. :-)

    1. Hello, Unknown. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad your found confirmation that your mother did know what she was talking about when she said that rhyme.

      I wonder if your mother pronounced "live" to rhyme with "hive".

      Thanks again for sharing!

  5. Puud (as in Puddycat) & Tane was used among my friends in high school to duck into the crowd if a teacher who didn't know you was trying to get your name because of some mischief. It was also used to avoid a fight. Both were veiled insults, as our definition referred to vaginas. Pudd as in pussy- calling your opponent a coward, and homosexual, a cunt. Tane as in Poon- Tane. Tainted, diseased genitals. Mid 1980s. The books of Charles Earle Funk are good references for this sort of phrase. I believe I also 1st heard it on the Little Rascals. BTW I met one of the Our Gang actresses when I was a child. I wish I remembered her name. She waited tables at a bar in the Colorado Mts.

    1. Anonymous December 7, 2015, thanks for sharing your high school memories of Puddycat & Tane. If you read this response, I hope that you will add where (city & state if in the USA, and city/country if outside of the USA) and when (decade) you and your friends did this.

      I wasn't aware of the sexualized meaning and gender meaning for the word "Pudd", but I included a link to an internet article about the sexual term word "poontang" by the "take my word for it" website That take my word for it page included a hyperlink [that is now broken] to the comment that's given above along with this statement: "He [linguist Doug Wilson ] concludes that the two [poontang and Puddin Tane] are not related, and he gives some good evidence."

      That said, I've no doubt that people could have inflated the two terms-plus the term "Pudd" that you mentioned in your comment- and given them a sexual meaning. In my childhood (in the 1950s) when I said that "What's your name/Puddin Tane" rhyme, I didn't think that rhyme had any sexual meaning. If it did, I wouldn't have said it. I think that's true for a number of other children.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  6. Hello! I found this blog post while looking for more information on the "Puddin' Tane" rhyme. When I was a toddler in New Jersey, in the early '80s, my grandparents taught me exactly the same version from comment #10 (September 7, 2011) in your post. They had learned it themselves as children in New Egypt, NJ in the early to mid-1920s. When I tried to turn it around on my grandfather by asking what his name was, he would sometimes say, "Puddin' Tane--ask me again and I'll tell you the same!"

    1. Anonymous, thanks for sharing your memories of "Puddin Tane".

      Also, as an aside, it's nice to "meet" another person from New Jersey. I'm from Atlantic City and I didn't know there was a city in that state called New Egypt.

      I love the internet!

  7. Why am I not surprised thus phrase may have been given sexual connotation in the 70's/80's. I remember it as a childhood rhyme and recently said it back to my child who will now not stop repeating it! Or asking me why? Then thought oh I'm bot really sure what it means or where it came from. Interesting info here. I graduated high school 30 years ago and have 2nd set of late in life children we live in Oklahoma City

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kayla Lee.

      Thinking about your child repeatedly saying this rhyme and asking "Why?" made me smile.

  8. Fascinating! I got here because I just heard Mulder use a couple of the lines on an X-files rerun (a time travel episode set in WWII) and googled it. I also have a vague memory of the Little Rascals use.

    I would never have thought to connect it with a jump-rope rhyme of my childhood in northern NJ in the early 70s:

    What's your name? Mary Jane.
    Where do you live? Down the drain.
    What's your number? Cucumber.
    What do you eat? Pigs' feet.
    What do you drink? Black ink.

    1. Greetings, Julie.

      Thanks for sharing your memories of a "What's Your Name?" rhyme. I didn't know that some children chanted rhyme this while jumping rope.

      As an aside, I'm from Atlantic City, New Jersey and graduated from college in Northern Jersey in 1969. So I might have seen you walking down the street and asked you what's your name :o)

  9. I found this conversation while trying to find the orgin of my aunt's nickname. Family lore is that aunt Elvera used the phrase "Puddin Tane. Ask me again and I'll tell you the same" to an older aunt Rosco and he always called her "Puddin" after that and it stuck. All her friends and relatives fondly called her "Puddin" for the rest of her life which came to its end in 2011 at 101 years old in Southern California.

    1. Greetings, Anonymous.

      Thanks for sharing your family's history that is associated with the "Puddin Tane" rhyme. It's interesting how people get their nicknames.

      RIP to your aunt Elvera.

  10. I'm from southern NH, born in 1974 and remember it as
    What's your name, puddin' tane
    Where do you live, under a bridge
    What's your number, cucumber

    Thanks for sharing all the different versions.

    1. Thanks and you're welcome, electrong99.

      I love collecting and sharing examples of rhymes and noting how they may differ in small ways and sometimes in not so small ways.