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The house that Jack built
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A traditional nursery rhyme to develop kid's memory. Each sentence in the story is an example of an increasingly deeply nested relative clause.

It was suggested by James Orchard Halliwell that the reference to the "priest all shaven and shorn" indicates that the English version is probably very old, presumably as far back as the mid-sixteenth century.

 This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing his corn,
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

MALT= Grain, usually barley, that has been allowed to sprout, used chiefly in brewing beer.

LAY= (Lie-lay-lain) To be in a horizontal position. To be in a place in store.

WORRIED= (in a transitive use) To cause to be worried or to have problems.

CRUMPLED= Not smooth or straight, twisted, bent, crooked.

TOSSED= To toss is to push strongly and suddenly forwards. When animals with horns attack, they toss you with their head.

MAIDEN= (old-fashioned) A young woman who is not married.

FORLORN= Appearing sad or lonely because deserted or abandoned.

MILKED= To milk a cow, sheep, goat, etc is to extract milk from them.

ALL TATTERED AND TORN= Dressed in rags, wearing poor broken (torn) clothes.

PRIEST= A person having the authority to perform and administer religious rites (especially a Catholic priest).

SHAVEN AND SHORN= (shave-shaved-shaved/shaven) and (shear-sheared-sheared/shorn). To shave is to remove your hear from your face and to shear is to cut hair or fleece from an animal (or from your head). So a man shaven and shorn is a man who has cut his hair and shaved to look very nice.

CROWED= Some birds crow (they make a loud gutural sound)

MORN= (Old-fashioned) Morning.

WAKED= (Old-fashioned) Woke (wake-woke-woken)

SOWING= To sow /səʊ/is to plant seeds on the ground in order to grow some kind of vegetables (see picture)

CORN= Grain, cereal seeds. (In America it usually refers to maize, but this is an old English rhyme)

 

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