Taunting Tonight

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 08, 2005

In Reply to: "We Know Where You're Going" posted by Bruce Kahl on October 08, 2005

: : : : I would love to know the origin of the phrase:
: : : : nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh
: : : :
: : : : Context:
: : : : Said in a sing song sort of way often by children it is usually used to gloat about ones superiority in a 'I told you so' kind of way something like this -
: : : :
: : : : John: My house is bigger than yours.
: : : : Dave: Oh, I don't think so.
: : : : John: How many rooms does yours have?
: : : : Dave: Seven, seven rooms.
: : : : John: Mine has twelve - nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh...
: : : :
: : : : Some may prefer the spelling to be - nah nah nah nah nah.
: : : :

: : : In the U.S. a better spelling would be, nyeah - nyeah nyeah nyeah - nyeah. (The rhythm is long, short, short, long, long.) In the key of F, the pitches would be: C - A D C - A. I don't know the origin or age of this expression, but it seems to be pretty universal. I'm guessing it's very old. SS

: : I should have added that "nyeah nyeah," with or without discernible pitch, means "So there!" The OED does not appear to have either expression. SS

: In the world of sound editing the sound is called a taunt aka the "We Know Where You're Going" song.
: Click the link below to hear it.

That's the first time I ever heard it on the pipe organ (or synthesizer), and I've never heard a dotted rhythm used for the first two notes. Well, there's always a first time. I've just come from trying to find the music for Ring Around the Rosy (unsuccessfully). I think it's possible that the first line uses the same music as the "taunt." I've never heard the "We know where you're going" song. Are there more words or more lines? And where are "you" going? I'm virtually certain that the "taunt" music is the first phrase of a longer song, in which every line MAY be sung to the same music, or perhaps only the first two of four. "A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket" has a melody which at first emphasizes the same scale notes (5,3,6) that the taunt does. I never paid enough attention to these things when I had the chance. SS