Body parts in different languages


When we teach our (young) children a new language, we often use rhymes and songs. Usually we start with naming their body parts:  when they are still babies we touch their nose, hands, feet etc.

When I asked some hints about body parts’ songs in other languages among the bloggers of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group, the song “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” seems to be the most famous song on this topic and has been translated into many different languages:

Head, shoulders, knees and toes

Knees and toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes

And eyes and ears And mouth and nose

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, Knees and toes

I won’t list up all the languages here, but what I find interesting are some small variants like in the German and the Dutch versions of this song. In the German song, “toes” (pl) is translated with “Zeh” (sg) or “Fuß” (foot), and the Dutch version has, instead of “nose”, “puntje van je neus” (the point of your nose). Tina Chen pointed out that “in Indonesian, they have translated Head and Shoulders from English. Kepala, bahu, lutut, kaki, which is head, shoulders, knees, and feet.” The change from toes to feet can be found also in other languages like in Korean, pointed out by Carrie Embleton Pericola: “the Korean version is Head, Shoulders Knees and Feet” and the Polish version (by Olga Mecking).

We can find many resources online with songs and rhymes about the body parts. Here are two in English and one with the French translation:

Five fingers on one hand

and five fingers on other make ten.

A dear little nose,

and a mouth shaped like a rose.

Two cheeks so tiny and fat.

Two eyes, two ears

and ten little toes;

Thats the way my body goes.

 ***

I have so many parts to me

I have two hands to clap with,
(clap)
one nose with which to smell.
(sniff)
I have one head to think with,
(tap head)
two lungs that work quite well.
(take a deep breath)
I have two eyes that let me see.
(point to eyes)
I have two legs that walk.
(walk in place)
I have two ears that help me hear,
(cup hands to ears)
a mouth with which to talk.
(point to mouth)

 ***

Bones, you must have them

You have two hands and two feet
You have two legs and a nose
You have a belly (stomach) and a back
And muscles underneath your skin

You have a head and a neck
Two ears and two knees
You have two eyes and two cheeks
And a mouth that eats everything and

Under your skin you have bones
Small bones and big ones
Bones, bones, you must have them
It’s because you have bones that … (repeat from top of the song)

(French:)

Des os il en faut

Tu as deux mains et deux pieds
Tu as deux jambes et un nez
Tu as un ventre et un dos
Et des muscles sous la peau

Tu as une tête et un cou
Deux oreilles et deux genoux
Tu as deux yeux et deux joues
Et une bouche qui mange tout, et

Sous ta peau il y a des os
Des petits et des gros
Des os, des os, il en faut
C’est parce que tu as des os que …

****

Laura Pheneger mentioned the U.S. song “The Hokey Pokey”, “which is an action song that uses lots of body parts. You put your right arm in, you put your right arm out, you put your right arm in and you shake it all about, you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about…then you continue with various body parts.”

Aimee Schmitt Thompson’s “children (and husband!) also loved singing the “I’ve Got Two Eyes” song from Sesame Street” from 1970 with Susan and Bob singing about body parts that come in pairs.

Jennifer Brunk says that in Spanish there are lots of songs about body parts and refers to a post on her blog about “Saco una manita/manito (depending on the country)”, “Mi carita” etc. and there are “finger plays and four of them are traditional rhymes for body parts“.

 

I found a lovely song about the Körperteile (body parts) in German by Bobby and another one in English by Brendan Parker:

 

 

As this week it’s Halloween, I’ll top this post up with the lovely skeleton dance song from the U.S.:

 

 

If you know any song in your another language about body parts, please share it with me! I’d be very glad to add it to my list!

 

I’ve recently published a short article with a list of several body parts in English, German, Italian, French and Dutch on my “other” blog: go and check it out.

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4 responses to “Body parts in different languages

  1. Hi Ute,
    This is a great topic. Is funny but we don’t have any song in Spanish only about body parts. I haven’t heard about any translation either but since I’m an expat mom I might not know about it.
    Abigail hug from Budapest

    Like

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