This could be subtitled: versions of a not-memorable ditty…or, ticketing in the old days….
A dog is a dog and a cat is a dog, and a squirrel in a cage is a parrot, but a tortoise, he’s a hinsect, so he rides free.
I heard this long ago, and vaguely remember it referred to ticket costs when riding? what, a train? a bus?, but nothing more.
Now, buried in the on-line correspondence in the New York Review of Books is this, attributed to Freeman Dyson:
When I was a boy in England long ago, people who traveled on trains with dogs had to pay for a dog ticket. The question arose whether I needed to buy a dog ticket when I was traveling with a tortoise. The conductor on the train gave me the answer: “Cats is dogs and rabbits is dogs but tortoises is insects and travel free according.�?
And this, from a 1869 Punch cartoon caption of a railway porter advising a woman traveling with her no-doubt beloved animals:
“STATION MASTER SAY, MUM, AS CATS IS ‘DOGS,’ AND RABBITS IS ‘DOGS,’ AND SO’S PARROTS; BUT THIS ’ERE ‘TORTIS’ IS A INSECT, SO THERE AIN’T NO CHARGE FOR IT!�?
…both from Nicholas Humphrey, resident of Cambridge, England.
Well, this is as far as I can go; maybe someone knows more of the story, or how this came into folk memory (a quick Google turns up nothing)…. Certainly, classification has deep human roots….
27 August 2006 at 6:10 pm
mouse's moom says:
I went to Kitch-iti-kipi once when I was a kid. I was absolutely fascinated! It seemed so beautiful. Tried to repeat the experience with my kids. Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs that day and we really couldn’t see *anything* because the water surface was so bumpy.
I dunno where the roots of that ticket thing came from but I had to laugh when Dyson said he wasn’t sure if it was a real memory or not because I do that same kind of thing all the time. Did it happen? Was I there when it happened or have I just heard it so many times I think I was there? Or did I dream it?