The source of the song En Den Dino

“La Queue Leu Leu” , sheet music with illustration from a French children’s book Vieilles Chansons pour les Petits Enfants: Avec Accompagnements

This was first published on my blog on November 10th, 2009 (12:43:01). I am reposting it now with some minor changes:
I did first send an e-mail on March 1st, 2009 to the jewishgen newsgroup (soc.genealogy.jewish) in which I asked if someone knows more about the song “En Den Dino” (with spelling mistakes removed):

From: gershon.lehrer@gmail.com (lehrer)
Newsgroups: soc.genealogy.jewish
Subject: Children’s song: “En den dino”
Date: 1 Mar 2009 13:55:30 -0800

Dear all,

This is more a historical question then a genealogy related question:

My daughter of 3 came from her preschool with the following song:

“En den dino / sof al hakatino / Elik Belik Bom / Shabat Shalom / Un deux trois et vous êtes pas!”

I remember myself singing this song as a kid. Kids sing this when they want to decide which kid will have its first turn when playing a game.

I also remember once seeing a documentary about rhymes from preschoolers. Quite often such rhymes appear to be very old with sources that go back till the middle ages.

As this song sounds Spanish or Portuguese (except for the French part which obviously was added later), I am wondering whether this song’s source can be from the Inquisition’s times?

Best Regards,

Gershon Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium

I’ve received many replies to my question and have compiled an overview of what I managed to learn about this song.

What it is:
Most of the people who replied remember the song from their childhood (mostly in Israel). It is definitely a children songs nowadays, but is there a legend to be found, some (old ) sources, etc.?

(Someone suggested to me that even though this website: www.hebrewsongs.com/song-endendino.htm gives the impression as if “En Den Dino” is a modern song, it likely is not that case because the original song sounds old and poetic (Tali Segal)).

The song seems to be a counting song for children which are similar to songs that exist in many Western languages (e.g.: In the US it would be ” Eenny Meenny Minee Moe”).

For a list of similar and different sing-songs, refer to the overview later in this article and to the e-mail chain on (hinted by Nina G. Wouk): http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-2203.html (see appendix I below for a copy of the complete text on that website).

Of course, as suggested by Evertjan, there must be some incoherent words as is often the case with children sing songs.

In which language are the lyrics for this song:
Some suggested to me that the song’s lyric consists a mixture of several languages. Jews from all over the world came to Israel and sang this song.

Rachel Blonder wondered how I knew this song even though I live in Belgium, she associated this song with Israel, not with Belgium, that is why she believed that the French words were Belgian additions whereas the Hebrew words in her version were Israeli additions.

Someone (Tali Segal’s mother) wanted to suggest that the words “En Den” stem from “un deux”. The same person added that “En Den Dino” is in her opinion an ancient rhyme. There were Spanish-speaking people in her neighborhood in Israel, which made her believe that some of the words stem from their country of origin.
However my brother in-law, who is originally from Spanish-speaking Argentina, does not recognize any Spanish word in the song.

David Lewin, who sang the song during his childhood in Haifa (1937-1952), did not remember any hints of French, Spanish or Portuguese.
Some recognize French, Spanish and Hebrew. So we are not sure yet about the language in which en Den Dino is composed. Is it a Jewish song at all?

Different versions of the song:
As mentioned earlier, there are a few different versions of this song. Some changes were applied through the years, one change which amazed David Lewin, is that today there seems to be music for this song which wasn’t the case during his childhood years.

Israel Pickholtz suggests that the best known version of the song is the “The Tarnegolim” version from forty to fifty years ago (see link below).

G. C. Kalman from the Institute for Literary Studies in Budapest (Hungary), wrote about a “similar song with a similar function here in Hungary but the first two lines are rather “Latinized”, and the rest is different” […] And, of course, it has no sense at all. (Except for “bambuszka” which is a diminutive of “bamboo” [“bambusz” in Hungarian].)“. See the overview later in the next section of this post for the Hungarian version of the song.

Overview of some of the different versions of the song:

Hebrew:
Version 1:
En den dino
sofa la katino
sofa la katikato
elik belik Bom!
(David Lewin)

Version 2:
En den Dino
Sof al ha’katino
Sof al ha’katikato
Elik belick bom
Bom bom bom
Sof al ha’shalom
(Rachel Blonder, New York)

Version 3:
En den dino
sof al hakatino
Sof-Aleh-Kati-kato
Elik Belik
Bom Bom-Bom-Bom
Mi-Yavo-Rishon
(Ilan Ganot, Israel)

Version 4:
En, den dinno,
sof a la katinoso
a la ka ti ka to
Elik belik boom.
Bom bom bom
Mi yotze Rishon
(Lily Tiger, Israel
)

Version 5:
En-den-dino
sof al hakatino,
sof al hakati kato,
elik belik bom.
(Tali Segal and her mother, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA )

Version 6:
En-den-deeno,
soffa-lakka-teeno,
soffa-lakka-tikka-toe,
elik-belik-bom.
Bom Bom Bom,
niftach et ha’album,
sham tireh otee,
beyom huladatee,
tee tee tee,
ach-oh-tee.
Hamelech amar,
tispor ad….
kamah?
Eser!
ached,
shtayim,
shalosh….
(“Midlife Singlemum” and “Lea” )

Hungarian:

read as if it were in French: Written in Hungarian:
en-ten-teh-nuss
so-racah-teh-nuss
so-racah-tiqui-taqua
alah-balah bambousquah
Antanténusz
Szórakaténusz
Szóraka tiki taka
Ala-bala bambuszka

(G. C. Kalman)

Dutch (source: http://www.engelfriet.net/Alie/Liedjes/honderdzeventig.htm (song 180):

Iene miene mutte
Tien pond grutte
Tien pond kaas
Iene miene mutte is de baas!

The way I learned it at school and how my daughters sing it (I should add that this is how the children sing it among themselves, not the school):

En Den Dino,
Sof a La Katino,
Eli Beli Bom,
Shabat Shalom,
Un Deux Trois,
et vous êtes pas!

Check the comments for more versions of the song.

Links (and videos) and on the Internet:

Enjoy the song (and keep teaching it to your children and gr-children, etc) .
Please add your comments below or contact me for any comments on this post, thank you.

Appendix I:
The following was copied from http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-2203.html:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

15 thoughts on “The source of the song En Den Dino”

  1. My daughter sings: En-den-deeno, soffa-lakka-teeno, soffa-lakka-tikka-toe, elik-belik-bom. Bom Bom Bom, niftach et ha’album, sham tireh otee, beyom huladatee, tee tee tee, ach-oh-tee. Hamelech amar, tispor ad….kamah? Eser! ached, shtayim, shalosh…..

  2. My children sing the same version as Midlife Singlemum said.
    We live in Israel but I am in origin from Czech Republic and in czech the children sing ententiki dva shpaliki. It evokes for me a clock. One two tik tak. Look at the children from above:the one in the middle is a hand of the clock and tik-taks around.
    There is also another one in czech:eniki beniki kliki be, aber faber domine.I think it is from latin that used the catholic church and the children did not understand. And it was mysterious.

  3. It is very common in Serbia too. It goes like this:
    En den dini
    savarakatini
    savaraka tika taka
    elem belem buf
    trif traf truf.

      1. Thank you very much for your comment.
        I actually also can’t help myself, when I read about earlier times, that people then actually also had a life with children playing around, had a life with happiness and sadness, were rich or poor, went out, etc. That’s what makes history amazing; you understand then that people from these times were also people etc.

  4. Angelia Pedron uploaded a document “Tiroler Nonsens-Abzählreime – ein komparatistischer Versuch” where she cites the following examples

    Österreich 1) Ini daini dinus, / sauaracka dinus / sauarackatas, / alla molla wump.95 (Niederösterreich) 2) An dan dinus /sacka racka minus, / dacka racka, dicka dacka, / elle relle wom. /1 2 3, du bist frei. 96 (Niederösterreich) 3) Enn tenn tinus / sawa raka rinus / sawa raka rika raka / enn tenn bumm97 (Kärnten) 4) Empempinus, / Sagaragadinus / Sagaraga tiketake, / Empempus und du bistt duß!98 (Vorarlberg) Italien En ten tini / Savara ca tini / Savara’ ca tica taca / Baia baia buf99 Serbien/Kroatien 1) En-ten-tini / Sava-raka-tini / Sava-raka-tika-taka / Bija-baja-buf / Bistra voda iz lavora-tuf !100 2) En ten tini / sava raka ti ni / Sava Raka tika taka / bija baja buf / isla voda pluf / trif traf truf.101 Bosnien-Herzegowina Ententino savaracatino, / Savara caticataca / elem Belem Bus / tisi mali rus.102 Slowenien En, ten, tine, / Schauaracka, tine, / Schauaracka, tigga, tigga, / Poje, poje, puz …103 (dt. Sprachinsel Gottschee) Polen 1) En ten tino / sara raka tino / saka raka i tabaka en ten to / renibusa renibusa en ten to.104 2) En, ten, tina / Saweraki bina / Aweraki, saweraki / Elef, telef, boms!105 3) En ten tina / Sova loka dina / Sova loka, tika toka / Elek belek bum!106 (Plock) Israel 1) Ententino / Savaracatino / Savara caticataca / Elem belem bus / Tisi bali rus.107 2) En den dino / Sofala katino / Sofala kati kato / Elek belek bom!108 3) En den dino / sofa la katino / sofa la katikato / elik belik Bom!109 Slowakei En-ten-tíná / Má, raka, tína / Má, raka, tìki, / Taj, bom!110 En-ten-tina sa-ora-ca-tina / Sa-ora-ca-tina-ta belen-buş / ouă cu albuş / şi cu gălbenuş / pentru căteluş.111 Antanténusz, / szórakaténusz, / Szóraka-tiki-taka / alabala-bambusz(ka)!112 Rumänien Ungarn Tschechien En ten tinus, / saraka tinus, / saraka ty ty taky / bam –bus113 Ukraine En den dina / sava raka rina / sava raka, ritsa daka / ele bele bom!114 Argentinien En ten tina / soba loca bina / soba loca tica toca / eli beli bom115 Litauen En den dino / soko loko tiko toku eylik beylik bom!116 (Butrimonys)

    1. This is fascinating. Have you noticed that the Israeli version is really the Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian version, which I’ve heard in my childhood in Serbia? “Ti si mali Rus” (you’re a little Russian boy) doesn’t mean anything in Hebrew, but it can still be seen in “tisi bali rus”.

  5. Received via email from Theodora Chobanova and posting with permission:
    I can see that this page is old, but I just found it. It was interesting to see that the kid´s song existed in other countries too.
    I am Bulgarian. Back in Bulgaria , I have lerned this song as a child, from the older kids . It was long time ago . Now, remembering the names of the kids, some were probably Armenian, and some Jewish, but I don´t know who introduced the song to the other kids.

    The way we sang the words ( probably wrong) was :

    An-dan-tina
    Sara-katina
    Sara- katiki- tiki
    Elim- belim- bus
    Kar- pus
    (vowels are pronounced as in German, not English)

    Thank you for posting the information and the song. It was a nice trip to my childhood.

    Just for clarity, I would add that the words don´t mean anything in Bulgarian, so it is very possible that they vary slightly from town to town, and even from one neighborhood to another.
    This “version“ is from about 50 years ago from Sofia.
    If I find another version with different words , I´ll send it to you.

    The very idea of a kid´s song making its way around the world ( and obviously uniting kids from different backgrounds) despite the wars , the Iron Curtain, before the Internet , etc , is fascinating.

    Good luck in your research!

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