Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Song My Grandmother Sang -- Lady Moon

My grandmother sang a song to all the babies and toddlers in our family entitled, "Lady Moon." This was a lullaby used to entertain the little ones. I never thought much of the song because it was not a catchy tune, the words didn't mean very much, and no opera singer needed to be concerned that Grandma would take over their role. I never learned the words to the song. We also never heard this song from any other source. Until today I thought that Grandma had made up the words or changed them so much that the original would not be recognizable.

Last week my mother was reading the book,
Her Face in the Mirror / edited By Faye Moskowitz. (Boston, MA : Beacon Press, 1994) The book is a collection of biographical and autobiographical stories about Jewish women. One story, "Mother, I hardly knew you," by Letty Cottin Pogrebin caught my mother's attention. Ms. Pogrebin mentions that her mother sang a lullaby, "Old Lady Moon." My mother wondered if this was the same song that her mother sang. Music was a catalyst that reminded Ms. Pogrebin of her childhood. She remembers the songs of the Haggadah and the classical music from radio station WQXR. My mother turned to me for help finding Ms. Pogrebin's email address. I did a Google search for the author's name and didn't find the email address. I did find biographic material about her. I then searched in the data base, Literature Resource Center and found her name easily. I was pointed to Pogrebin's biography in Contemporary Authors Online. (Detroit: Gale, 2005.) I sent my mother the address on Monday.

Immediately my mother sent an e-mail to
Pogrebin. On Tuesday night my mother reported back that a reply was received. The song Pogrebin remembered started "O' Lady Moon, so fair and bright." This is not the same song as my Grandma sang. The first line of the song she sang was, "Lady moon, Lady moon Sailing up so high." I used Books.Google to search for the composer and lyricist.

The song is mentioned in the article, "First steps in language development" / by Harriet Luddington in the periodical The American teacher (vol 4:3, 1890) Luddington says that the singing the song was a good way to help with language development in kindergartners. The full text of the lyrics appears in Pinafore palace by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, Nora Archibald Smith (New York : Grosett & Dunlap, c1907) on pages 222-223. I found an alternative name for the song is: "The moon and the baby." Searching for this title led me to the full musical score in : The songs and music of Friedrich Froebel's Mother play / by Friedrich Fröbel, Susan Elizabeth Blow (New York: Appleton, 1903). The composer is Freidrich
Fröbel and the lyrics are by Kate Kellogg. There is a note that the song is from: Songs for Little Children for the kindergarten and primary schools, by Eleanor Smith. Springfield, Mass., Milton Bradley Co., 1887. This book is a fully viewable using Books.Google.

Freidrich Fröbel (1782 - 1852) was well known for the founding of the kindergarten in Germany. Many Germans, trained in his methods emigrated to the United States and started the first kindergartens for children of German immigrants. In 1873 William T. Harris superintendent of the St. Louis public schools was the first to integrate kindergartens as part of the public school systems. His curricula included reciting poems and singing songs as a way of expanding language skills.

My grandmother probably learned, "Lady moon" in kindergarten in St. Louis. By the time my mother was in kindergarten they were no longer singing it. The song that I thought my grandmother was the only one in the world to know is really one of many songs a 19th century German education reformer wrote to help young children learn language.

Here is the version of the song transcribed from a video recording of my grandmother.

The Moon and the Baby

Lady moon, Lady moon
Sailing up so high,
Drop down to baby
From out of the sky.
Baby dear, baby dear
Down far below
I hear you calling,
I hear you calling,
But I cannot go
But lady moon sends to me
Soft shining rays,
The moon loves the baby
The moon must stay
In her house dark and blue
So she must stay
I think she'll watch me
I think she'll watch me
'Til dawn's bright new day.

Here is the version from Kate Kellogg

Lady moon, Lady moon
Sailing up so high,
Drop down to baby
From out the great sky.
Babykin, babykin
Down far below
I hear thee calling,
I hear thee calling, I hear thee calling,
Yet I cannot go
But Lady moon sendith thee
Soft shining rays,
Moon loves the baby
The moon-light says
In her house dark and blue
Though she must stay
Kindly she'll watch thee
Kindly she'll watch thee
Till dawns the new day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Language Grows -- Compounds

Yesterday a librarian in a middle school in Rogers, Arkansas posted a query on lm_net, a list serv for school librarians. "Is
minivan considered a compound word? We are having quite a discussion about it here at school."

I posted a short answer to lm_net, but I would like to expand here to cover a few more points of linguistics. List servs are great for asking question and sharing ideas from the collective knowledge of the group. Beginners in the profession have a chance to interact with veterans. Sometimes the teachers in their school are colleagues and sometimes librarians and teachers are in two separate educational worlds. Frequently school librarians are the only librarians in their building and have to seek advice from colleagues in other places. Librarians serve the information needs of everyone in the school, while teachers are focused on their classes.

In the language curriculum there is probably a unit on "compound words." Even college writing guides talk about compound words. The first challenge to answering this question is to understand how language grows. How does a new word enter the language? The first words were monosyllabic imitations of natural sounds. We call the descendants of those words onomatopoeic words. Examples are: ding-dong, ring, swish, bang, etc. Eventually grammars and vocabularies developed so that sentences could be created.

These first words were combined to create new words that represented more abstract objects or concepts. For example "sweater" and "sweet" began as onomatopoeia. In Hebrew, which is more root based than English, words formed from roots in a more systematic way than English. For example the root,
ספר (samekh- peh - resh) once meant "to cut." Now we have words such as

סֵפֶּר (safer) meaning book, סִפּוּר (sipur) meaning story and סָפַּר (sapar) meaning both to cut and to count. Early writing was in stone; hence "to cut" was the operation required for writing.

Another way for language to grow is to coin a new word. Someone invents a word based on another word, based on a foreign word, or totally synthetic. Examples are; telephone, television, geography, and microscope. Words can be invented by companies to use as product names. Some of these words have entered into common usage such as: Xerox, Kleenex, and Twinkies.

In linguistics a compound consists of two or more lexemes (meaningful parts)each of which could stand on its own. A prefix or suffix has meaning, but is not a lexeme that can stand alone. When these parts are put together the meaning is a combination of the parts, but with a new meaning. Usually the parts are the same part of speech (i.e. all nouns or all verbs). In German the parts may make a long word with or without a connector. Two examples are "Autobahn" and "Eisenbahn." "Auto" means automobile,"Bahn" means path or road, "Eisen" means iron. "Autobahn" is a limited access highway for cars. "Eisenbahn" is a railroad. In Hebrew and other Semitic languages two words may be combined with the vocalization of first one changing to the construct state. For example "Bayit" בית means house and "kenesset" כנסת means assembly. When combined the vowels change to "beit kenesset" בית כנסת and the meaning is synagogue. Compounding two or more words is a way to create a word for a concept that will be understood even by speakers who previously had not heard the words.

In English the compound may be connected to form one word such as "seaman," connected with a hyphen such as "do-it-yourself," or just in proximity such as "high school" or "tea bag." In speech the emphasis or stress is on the first part. In the conventions of writing make proximity a largely ignored group of compounds. Compare how we pronounce, a white house and the White House

In your example of "minivan" the question is, "Are the two parts stand alone lexemes?" While "mini" is frequently used as word it is still jargon, slang, or proprietary usage. "Mini" is considered a prefix or combining form in most dictionaries. Since "mini" is not a full word, "minivan" would not be considered a compound word in English.

If one uses "minivan" it has a specific meaning as coined and defined by the American automobile market. The spellings "Minivan," "mini-van," and "mini van" are used. "Mini Van" (1960­ - 1982) is a propitiatory name introduced by British Motor Corporation (BMC).

However, why should anyone care if the word is compound or not when the history of the word and the use of compounds is much more interesting?

Here are some of the comments that I received today and yesterday ---

How delightful to start the day off with a little linguistics discussion! It is a neglected little passion of mine, and I enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing and for brightening a gloomy autumn morning.

Malin Lauschus

Oh my goodness, Dr. Stuhlman! You just sent the best reply! I absolutely adore words of every language, but I can see that my knowledge is nothing compared to yours. I have forwarded your reply to our academic facilitator who was needing to know... Thank you SO much!

Melissa Artman

Amen, Dr. S.! Amen and bravo, too!

Dianne Meyer

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Problem Patrons

Last week we had a problem patron. The person was not disruptive, mean, loud or malicious -- just needy and not even a student. Let's call this patron LD (for lady). LD self identified herself as a non-student. Since we don't restrict access to the building or library, LD was allowed to enter. She had a hard time expressing herself. It took many questions to figure out want she wanted. We finally figured out that she wanted help writing a job reference for herself. I found some sample references in several web sites and sent her to these sites. She wanted to write the reference and have her employer sign it. LD kept asking for all kinds of help with the computer and printer. She complained about the 10 cent cost per copy. Some of the questions are covered in an introduction to word processing class given in elementary schools. Some of the questions required "hand-holding" because she didn't understand. One of the student library workers tried to get LD to go to the career counseling office, but they closed at 6:45 and the time was 6:50. LD wanted to borrow a reserve book. To borrow a reserve book one needs a school ID. Sometimes if a student forgets their ID and is in the system, we allow them to use a reserve book. Since LD was not a student, she had no ID. LD tried to argue with the library clerk say that her ID was stolen and she had to go to the Police Department to get it back. LD even interrupted my dinner and a reference conversation with a student.

LD was in the library more than 3 hours. Her task could have been completed in 15-20 minutes. Last year LD attempted to apply to the nursing program because she wanted to help people get well. She was not accepted. You should thank the school because they saved us from a potentially poor nurse.

It is difficult to write diplomatically about a problem patron. Some college libraries do not allow non-students to enter the library. Some colleges don't even allow people without proper ID entry into the building. This person was not a threat to safety of anyone. She just needed the kind of help that we are not able to deliver. In a college library our students and faculty must come first.

In the same night I helped students with English papers and computer problems that they would have no way of solving without help.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Publishing in Scholarly Publications

"Publish or perish! " has nothing to do with the requirements my current position. I like to research and write about my findings. Last May I wrote an article about Hebrew-Yiddish name pairs because the subject had been bugging me for a while. I wanted to publish a more scholarly version for a wider audience and also to get the approval of my peers. First I tried, Tradition, the journal of the (Orthodox) Rabbinical Council of America. After they acknowledged receipt of the manuscript, in May, I waited and didn't hear anything. In July I sent a query. The editor said that it wasn't received. I sent a second copy. After waiting another 4 weeks, they politely turned me down because it was not about a Jewish law (halacha) topic. No where does their information say the articles need to be on a Jewish law topic.

I searched for another journal. I have a large run of Judaism, Quarterly, but strangely the latest issue was dated 2006. I found the web site of the publisher, the American Jewish Congress, and went to their publications page ( .) The cover picture of Judaism was dated Winter 2006 ( issues No. 219/220 volume 55, Winter 2006). I figured someone was not updating their web site. The site included subscription rates and gave no indication that the publication was in trouble. I searched come libraries and found the Winter 2006 was the latest they received. I called the AJC offices and learned that Judaism, Quarterly has suspended publication indefinitely. No indication was found on their web site that publication had ceased. This is a headache for librarians. Since the publication did not cease to exist, the library still has an open entry for the publication. If the publication resumes, will it take the 2007 date or the date it resumes? I couldn't submit my article to them.

I then investigated Jewish Quarterly Review published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. JQR with a long history of publishing Jewish scholarship started publication in 1889 at Dropsie College. Articles, written by top Judaica scholars cover the full range of Jewish scholarship from the ancient to the modern. I sent a query via e-mail and the address on the web site bounced. An alternative e-mail address bounced. I was concerned, did JQR cease to exist. I phoned their office and found out the correct e-mail address. I edited the article to fit their requirements and submitted it by e-mail on August 19. The exchange of e-mail with their office was very professional. They explained the review process and stated how long the process would take. However, on September 26 a letter of rejection was received. They liked the article, but it did not fit their editorial needs at the moment.

I started to search for other publications to submit the article. I knew of other journals that I felt were not the right place. Even though Moment Magazine is not a scholarly journal I sent them a query. They said that because of their small staff I may not hear from them if they are not interested. I waited a week and did not hear anything. This week I sent two more queries to journals that I have never seen. I hope one of them will requested a full copy and publish my article.

It is getting harder to find the right publication for my articles. I published an article on Torah scroll in a journal of book preservation. Some people read it and cited the article in their papers.

On Facebook one of my professor cousins once said, "No good deed goes unpublished." The mitzvah is sharing the information, now the person I'm trying to share with needs to reach out.
Oct. 14
The email address found on the publication's web site for submissions did not work. The address didn't bounce immediately, but I got message that my message couldn't be delivered.