Talk:Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

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Translation, Please?[edit]

Would it have killed you to provide an English translation of the "original" French lyrics on the English page of this article (rather than a link to a translation into *German*)???? My own French skills got me about 3/4th of it, but there's still a bunch that I'm flailing at....

(oh, and I don't see why someone below asserts that the dirai-je is not a question. Sure reads like a (rhetorical) question to me!)

This is an old construct. Nobody talks like this anymore today. (That's also why, even as a French person, I'm not 100% sure of the following. What I am sure of is that it is not a question. Definitely.) It can be translated as "I am going to tell you". The tense is future, not subjunctive or conditional. (therefore, no s) -- French user that is not a wikipedia user, December 28, 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:14, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Lyrics were changed for kids, except first sentence (which is also the title of song). Original lyrics is a young woman's monologue. Sylvandre made a pass at her. She will tell that to her mother. But, for now, she's wondering how to formulate her explanation. So, future tens is the most appropriate. Then, let check carefully sentence as written in old books : "Ah ! vous dirai-je, maman". Please, notice that word "vous" does not start with a capital letter. There is only one sentence in this line. If old books were printed with modern printer capabilities, we may probably see something like "« Ah ! » vous dirai-je, maman". This is a well-formed affirmative sentence. So, it's probably not a question. Regarding old books, you can check La clé du caveau (a reference book for such kind of song) or also Recueil de chansons choisies.


I fixed the English translation of "la longue antienne." That's not "la langue ancienne" to be translated as "the/an ancient tongue" as it was previously. There's even a note explaining what 'antienne' means, so I don't really get why this mistake was there. Karasuman 02:45, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

it's not Shall I tell you, Mother?. I haven't worked out what it is yet, but it's certainly not a question. Translation is a funny thing. -- Tarquin

Both grammar styles are found on the net, "dirais-je" and "dirai-je". First is "conditionnel", while the second is "future". But, given the story told by the song, the first one is most probably the right one. And is the one that is usually found in books.

I'm not sure it necessarily makes more sense to use conditional rather than future in the story. In fact, "dirai-je" is the only form I have seen given for the title of Mozart's variations, and the phrase "ah vous dirai-je maman" also gets more hits on Google. This is complicated, of course, by the fact that for many French people today, they sound the same. Lesgles 18:12, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Why does he say "vous" to his mother? -phma

It would be seriously impolite to use "tu" to one's mother. That practice is very modern. The quote is dated 1761 in the article. Eclecticology
That's "vouvoiement", i.e. formal second person. Nowadays, in most families, children use "tutoiement" with their parents. These kids. No more respect... -- French user that is not a wikipedia user, December 28, 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:17, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

The tune is variously described as written in 1761 and a folk melody. Can it be both? Or is it possible that the tune predates even the French words? David Brooks 20:18, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

I wonder why no-one ever proposed La Mantovana as the origin for this tune? To my ear, there are enough resemblances, plus the fact La Mantovana predates this by about a century. - (talk) 20:36, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

fabulous article[edit]

congrats wikipedians, this article is a gem, thanks Spencerk 07:11, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

New parody[edit]

I stand by my comment that this is probably not a parody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and is not worth noting, but it's far too trivial a point to have an edit war about. --Poetlister 11:34, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


Somebody has added to the Ilfracombe article that this song was written by someone whilst visiting there. Any ideas if this might be true? Cheers JHJPDJKDKHI! 08:51, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

No sample?[edit]

I'm surprised we have the sheet music but no sample. We should have a midi, and probably an Ogg as well... Nil Einne 16:28, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I added a sample of Tema of Variations on "Ah vous dirais-je, Maman" by Mozart, which is the basic melody of Twinkle Twinkle. --Ldnew 15:02, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Scientific version[edit]

I removed this sentence and put in a link to the John Carson 'scintillate scintillate' as it is probably copyright. The John Carson one is not 'scientific' it just uses longer words. There is a 'scientific' version:


by Lewis Fry Richardson or Ian D. Bush, but this is probably also copyright. ChristineD 13:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

  • If it's a "probable copyvio" it shouldn't appear in Wikipedia, not even on a talk page (sorry about that);
  • Could you give the date the Carson version was written?
  • All I know about him is the web page I directed to. The web page is not very well organised, for example they don't say who John Carson was (a poet? someone who whose only claim to fame is writing one rhyme?) and they don't give a date. ChristineD 21:40, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Added birth and death date of the author. This may be a "non-notable" alternate version. Wouldn't object its removal from the article. --Francis Schonken 22:53, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • I don't have anything specific to add in favour of it's notability. Nevertheless I saw it quoted on a writing course (as an example of how simple language is better) and the scintillate version stuck as I liked it. I think it's notable enough that other people might also like the chance to look it up.
  • I know the argument 'but other things are less notable so my bit should stay' has very dubious validity, but I feel that this reference is at least AS important?/notable? as some of the pop culture references, especially the Degrassi one. So my point would be if you have to delete this reference then trim down the others too.
  • However I vote to keep the John Calder link. ChristineD 23:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Could you give a clear reference to where the Richardson/Bush version can be found? When was it written? --Francis Schonken 14:13, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Various versions of twinkle are here this is all I know about it.
  • Well, if that's all that is known about that version, it should neither be copied nor linked to from the article: thoroughly unclear copyright situation. No idea whether this variant is in any way "notable". --Francis Schonken 22:53, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree, which is partially why I originally removed the mention of a 'scientific' version and only mentioned this link (and only on the talk page) when you asked about it. ChristineD 23:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • What are the legal and/or moral issues involved in not quoting copyright material, but in linking to an external page that quotes copyvio stuff for you? Obviously the Carson link must be ok as that is his family's website who presumably inherited the copyright. That is why I included the Carson link but not a link to the 'scientific' version in the article. If something cannot be attributed what happens to the copyright?
  • Don't link to (likely) copyvio pages. I thought you had it from a book or so. If something is notable, you'd be able to find non-copyvio versions of it. Or to put it otherwise: Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:Copyrights are "notability" thresholds too. --Francis Schonken 22:53, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Can the Dutch Version be deleted?[edit]

This has nothing to do with the rhyme 'twinkle twinkle little star'. And I think that mentioning every (or any) song sung to the same rhyme as this song is beyond the remit of this article. ChristineD 13:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

I have no clear feelings about it:
  1. It has some interest, while it is generally considered a children's rhyme (that's how it is tought in schools), but apparently has a second meaning (I, for one, always wondered what the symbolic meaning of the name "Kortjakje" was, and didn't know until someone else posted this explanation, with an external reference). It is at least interesting while in all other languages the "naughty" versions seem quite separated from the "innocent" children's versions.
  2. The whole article seems to err a bit far from wikipedia:don't include copies of primary sources... Not sure whether it is exactly the Dutch version we should delete now, but I think a large part of the present content can be moved to Wikisource:, with a link to these "primary sources". --Francis Schonken 14:13, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Update: the external link regarding the explanation on the Dutch version has been removed (as far as I could check this removal was justified in this particular case, apart from the general reasons given at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Spam#Suite101 dot com) --Francis Schonken 22:53, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

The dutch song is sung to the same melody as "Twinkle twinkle little star", so you cannot say they have nothing to do with each other. Obviously, the French "Ah! vous dirai-je Maman" and "Twinkle twinkle" have different lyrics as well, but share the same melody. It's as easy as that: either you focus on the melody, then it is all one song, or you focus on the lyrics, then you will have no interwiki links at all. I am in favour of the first spproach, because the songs are internationally linked together by Mozart's variations: once you discover, that it is all the same song, it is quite interesting, on which rhymes it is sung in different countries. --FordPrefect42 21:24, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

William Blake[edit]

IMHO The Star is probably a parody of or inspired by William BLAKE - The Tyger

Jonathan Robin

What a wonderful world[edit]

ok I'll give this another try... I think what a wonderful world is "inspired" by twinkle twinkle little star. I found midi files and combined them, the melodies and song structures totally match, except that what a wonderful world has a slower tempo. I uploaded the combined midi here: . Decide for yourself and include this info in the article if you want. I'm not gonna edit the article itself since my edits were reverted before. Thank you. 21:19, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

It may well be true that What a Wonderful World was inspired by Twinkle, Twinkle... but if no one else has made the connection before, then we can't be the first to do so. See the no original research rule. Nareek 21:54, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I couldn't find any direct connection. However, I think might be onto something. In Baca, Maria. (August 28, 2004) Star Tribune An Essay: Worshiping at the Farmers Market. Section: News; Page 7B., the article discusses "Alphonse, a musician in an African kofia hat, who launches into a signature high-energy guitar riff every time he sees us coming. ... he plays "What a Wonderful World," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and the ABC song, all with his own bluesy flair." It seems that Alphonse made a connection between these three songs. Also, see Zorn, Eric. (April 29, 2007) Chicago Tribune Change of Subject. Section: Metro; Page 2. (writing, "The most singable of the top lullabies of all time include "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Hush Little Baby," "Sweet Baby James" and the eerie "Rock a Bye Baby." Harder-to-sing classics include "Golden Slumbers," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "What a Wonderful World," "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Beautiful Dreamer.") -- Jreferee 15:39, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
That's way too much of a reach. A few intervals are the same, but this is true of countless melodies. The statement should be removed from the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:37, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

Should the article title be "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" (with the comma)? That seems to be how it usually is used. The article lead paragraph uses "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" but the article title lacks any use of commas. -- Jreferee 15:39, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

One more version[edit]

Certainly there are lots of versions of this tune around the world and the centuries, but the article doesn't mention one of the most stunning ones: "twinkle" by the US-American band The Residents, which can be heard on their 1980 E.P. "Goosebump"(1). The lyrics seem to be the unaltered classic english ones; the melody is also recognizable, but the arrangement... the version is quite mad, but still beautifull (just as childhood is, isn't it?)

(1) This E.P. is also available as bonus tracks in a CD-edition of the 1978 "Duck Stab" album.

fulano201.236.159.49 22:14, 13 July 2007 (UTC)


Perhaps it's just a chance correspondence, but Arbeau's "Aridan" branle from 1588/1589 has all but the first two notes of the first line of this song, albeit transposed and with a break measure inserted between the two phrases. Look at the ninth measure in e.g. this and this arrangement. - B.Bryant 01:14, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

french translation for mignons[edit]

Mignon means "cute" or "darling". It the noun form its "darlings" or "dainty ones". Its a fairly common word that doesn't usually imply a cut of steak when used by itself. I realize the lyrics are rather silly, but the parenthetical "filet" in the translation doesn't look right at all. Can someone come up with a better translation? Thanks. DavidRF (talk) 15:07, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

I modified it back to the parenthesised version. I know that "mignons" does not usually refer to "filet mignon" out of context, but as the kid is talking about meat two verses earlier, it is the first thing I think of.
Out of context, it does not imply a cut of steak, but it does not imply a lover either. Using "mignon" as a noun is extremely seldom nowadays (I'd say it was more widely used during the 16th century, where it referred to the favourites of Henry the Third, or to a father's favourite son), and you need context to know what it refers to.
If you ask anyone nowadays, they will surely tell you that "un mignon" is the translation of "a minion", if they play MtG. Otherwise, they will try to guess.

-- French user that is no Wikipedia user 16:03, 28 December, 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:08, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Removed external link to seminal performance[edit]

I have for the second time removed a link to a seminal performance, first introduced by on 5 January 2008, and again by on 19 January 2008. Both these accounts seem to be single-purpose accounts to promote the linked site.

I have removed the link because

  1. it's description is WP:POV;
  2. the file is subject to copyright (which is on its own OK, but together with the other points makes the link unsuitable);
  3. the link is insufficient: it leads to a page of text without any clear navigation to the file in question;
  4. it doesn't belong into this article, which is about the nursery rhyme, not the variations by Mozart.

Michael Bednarek (talk) 00:51, 19 January 2008 (UTC)


Why does Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat redirect to this page, when there is a perfectly good page (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat) for it instead? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nonagonal Spider (talkcontribs) 17:22, 22 March 2008‎

This has since been fixed. Hyacinth (talk) 05:25, 29 December 2013 (UTC)


should it be mentioned the words of Twinkle twinkle little star were written by jane in Colchester. The reasion i ask this is because a number of nursary ryhmes come from there inc humpty dummpty and old king cole. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:08, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

I hate to bring this up at this point, but I hope you realize there's all sorts of music research to indicate that the tune used for "twinkle" exists in every music culture on the planet. You know, accuracy and all that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:51, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Dead Space trailer[edit]

The song appears in a rather haunting fashion in the Lullaby Trailer for the 2008 video game Dead Space and also appears in the game with a slightly edited version of the trailer. Might be notable, might not be- I don't believe it's ever been used in relation to a game before. Certainly not in this manner. dethtoll (talk) 09:40, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

The song is also used in the movie. An mp3 version of the song is available at the official website if you click on 'Fan Tools' button. Reignfire (talk) 23:02, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Alternate English Verse?[edit]

The only alternate verse I had ever even heard of, I learned from the 1962 The Alvin Show. I was surprised not to see any reference to this alternate verse on this page.

When the evening sun has set, When the grass with dew is wet, Then I see you from afar, Twinkle twinkle little star.

But in retrospect I am not sure whether this information is substantial enough to add to the article since I don't know where these lyrics originated from. Marckubischta (talk) 06:38, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Translation for "la raison"[edit]

According to, "avoir raison" means "to be right," but just plain "la raison" translates as "reason." Can anyone with better French skills clarify? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:07, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Going just off the words, "avoir raison" is "to have reason", and "la raison" is "the reason". Mike Peel (talk) 06:32, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
"La raison" is "reason" (be it the intellectual capacity of reasoning, or the motive for doing something, or the cause of something), "raisonner" means "to reason" (to use one's own reason). Here, it means "reason" as "the intellectual capacity of reasoning".
"avoir raison" indeed means "to be right". "donner raison à quelqu'un" (lit. "give reason to someone") means that two people were disagreeing on some point, a third person got asked for advice and told which one was right. Ex: "La cour a donné raison à l'accusé" (lit. "The court gave reason to the defendant") -- French user that is not a wikipedia user

Poor translation for "mignon"[edit]

The translation of the second variation of the French version makes no sense. Why would he say that "candy is better than lovers" when he speaks about soup and meat? I think "mignon" refers to "filet mignon". I cannot see a way to make it sound good, though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:18, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

La Mantovana[edit]

I wonder why no-one ever proposed La Mantovana as the origin for this tune? To my ear, there are enough resemblances, plus the fact La Mantovana predates this by about a century. - (talk) 20:36, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

"Scientifically updated" version is problematic[edit]

The "scientifically updated version" section contains little more than a complete set of lyrics. This seems inappropriate for several reasons:

  • The lyrics are presumably copyrighted
  • There is no author or other provenance specified, other than a link to a blog where they appear, as original work
  • The lyrics are not notable -- in fact their only presence on Google is this very article and the aforementioned blog post.

So I guess this falls under What Wikipedia is not, and copyright problems, if not other categories. (talk) 11:07, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

What, exactly, is this article supposed to be about?[edit]

Re: "'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' is a popular English nursery rhyme. The lyrics are from an early nineteenth-century English poem, 'The Star' by Jane Taylor. The poem, which is in couplet form, was first published in 1806 in Rhymes for the Nursery, a collection of poems by Taylor and her sister Ann. It is sung to the tune of the French melody Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman (oldest known publication 1761).[1] The English lyrics have five stanzas, although only the first is widely known."

If Twinkle is a "nursery rhyme", than it doesn't have "lyrics"; it is a lyric. There is, of course, a song called "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", but that song would appear to be a different, obviously closely related, work, and the article needs to be clear about the relation. As of now it's entirely opaque. TheScotch (talk) 23:20, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Haydn's "Surprise" symphony[edit]

I was surprised (hehe) to find claims that the "Ah! vous dirais-je, maman" melody is featured in the slow movement of Haydn's "Surprise" Symphony no. 94. Sure, the rhythm and melodic contour are similar, but the tonal scheme is not. (Twinkle: ABA: 4 bars w PAC; 2 bars w HC, repeated; first 4 bars. Surprise: AAAABA: 4 bars w HC; another 4 with HC; all 8 repeated; 4 bars entirely of dominant chord; 4 bars paralleling opening material but ending in PAC.)

An editor cited some Kennedy Center program notes, and I thought, "Well, program notes are hardly scholarly proof, and went ahead and removed the references to it. On second thought, I looked just a little harder, and find several (albeit non-scholarly) sources making the same claim ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5]). I reverted my hasty edit, seeing that there are so many sources giving the same line. I find it interesting that all the ones I found (in a 5-minute search) were "listening"-type introductory guides. I wonder whether the first one pointed out the passing similarities as a mnemonic aid (e.g. "Listen for the tune that sounds a litle like "Twinkle"!), and it became parroted to the point that it showed up in National Symphony Orchestra program notes.

I'm afraid I don't have time at the moment to unearth—or fail sufficiently to unearth—conclusive evidence of a connection, but if I remember in a few months when my dissertation is done I'll try to do so. In the meantime, even if the references are kept, they are ineptly placed—wedged into a footnote with a broken link, and dropped into a paragraph about the lyrics. And I find it hard to imagine that they should not end up as "Haydn wrote something that sounds kind of like it," rather than "Haydn used it." (talk) 17:22, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman[edit]

Looking at the French version of this article, and the length of the relevant subsections in this article, it looks to me like "Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman" would be worthy of a separate article of its own. Agree or disagree? Oncenawhile (talk) 18:01, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Alice In Wonderland version[edit]

Thought you might want to correct this. The Lewis Carroll version doesn't use the word "twinkle". Instead, it uses the word "treacle", which is another word for molasses that one might have with their tea and crumpets at their tea party. It was recited by the dormouse. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:16, 31 December 2014 (UTC) Turns out it is a movie version that does this. The book does say "twinkle".

When Twinkle?[edit]

The article doesn’t say when the title (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) was applied to the tune; sometime between 1806 and 1838.

Maybe, too, the poem was sung to the tune, before the title was applied (to the tune).

Plus: When did people start claiming Mozart wrote it? Gotta be after 1960 I expect. MBG02 (talk) 16:18, 1 September 2018 (UTC)

Lyrics are too spread out[edit]

The lyrics are too spread out. This is due to Jerome Kohl's July 2020 changing en-dashes to --. However, that's what the \addlyrics documentation says you're supposed to do! I don't want to just revert Jerome's change. Maybe the \addlyrics tool is broken? I'd ask Jerome, but he's dead.

Neutron Jack (talk) 19:17, 24 September 2020 (UTC)

Why the uncertainty?[edit]

It was first published in a jiont book by two sisters, Jane and Anne Taylor. The book says it was Jane, Anne's son says it was Jane. Who is saying differently? Why the uncertainty? Kevin McE (talk) 12:26, 25 July 2021 (UTC) None of these seem to express any doubt about it: [6], [7], [8], [9], [10] Kevin McE (talk) 08:44, 26 July 2021 (UTC)

I am reasonably sure that Jane Taylor wrote Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. But in the absence of proof some uncertainty remains.

All of the references you mention are (I think) 21st-century and primarily internet. None is a primary sources. Only two of the references state who expressed the opinion. None gives a source for the claim. Perhaps they are all copying each other.

The British Library comes up several times. For example, the citation of I. Opie and P. Opie doesn’t link to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. It actually leads readers to the same British Library article. It is easy to consider the BL an authoritative source. However, that BL statement includes neither date nor source, or even any indication of who made the statement.

Two two things support authorship by Jane Taylor: The poem conforms to her style Ann’s son, Josiah Gilbert, believed she was the author

Several other things introduce doubt: Neither of the sisters ever stated that Jane wrote it None of the books indicated her authorship Their works have often been confused. See wiki. The Taylors were a collaborative literary family. - e.g. When “Ann Taylor” is mentioned, can we be sure whether it is the mother or the daughter? - There were several contributors to later compilations:

   - “The main contributors were Ann Taylor, Jane Taylor and Adelaide O'Keeffe, but Bernard Barton and various other members of the Taylor family contributed to it as well.”

I have checked Rhymes for the Nursery, though I admit it was the 23rd edition of 1831 It is “by the authors of Original Poems“ - Five poems are followed by the initials “A.T.“ Three poems are followed by the initials “J.T.” None of those eight poems is The Star. - The Star appears on page 10. No initials follow it.

The Wikipedia article about and Taylor adds: “The sisters and their authorship of various works have often been confused, usually to Jane's advantage. This is in part because their early works for children were published together and without attribution, but also because Jane, by dying young at the height of her powers, unwittingly attracted early posthumous eulogies, including what is almost a hagiography by her brother Isaac, and much of Ann's work came to be ascribed to Jane…”

To me, in the absence of any concrete evidence, there will always be some uncertainty. But my opinion doesn’t count. I could add this evidence to the Wikipedia article and let the readers make up their minds. Alternatively, we could simply say that it was probably written by Jane Taylor.

What do you think? Humphrey Tribble (talk) 15:22, 3 September 2021 (UTC)