Betty Botter

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Betty Botter is a tongue-twister written by Carolyn Wells.[1][2] It was originally titled "The Butter Betty Bought." By the middle of the 20th century, it had become part of the Mother Goose collection of nursery rhymes.[3]

Construction[edit]

The construction is based on alliteration, using the repeated two-syllable pattern /'b__tə 'b__tə 'b__tə/ with a range of vowels in the first, stressed syllable. The difficulty is in clearly and consistently differentiating all the vowels from each other.

They are almost all short vowels:
/æ/ batter
/e/ better - Betty
/ɪ/ bitter - bit o'
/ɒ/ Botter
/ʌ/ butter
with one long vowel /ɔ:/ 'Bought a'

Lyrics[edit]

When it was first published in "The Jingle Book" in 1899 it read:[1]

Betty Botta bought a bit of butter;

“But,” she said, “this butter's bitter!

If I put it in my batter

It will make my batter bitter.

But a bit o’ better butter

Will make my batter better.”

Then she bought a bit o’ butter

Better than the bitter butter,

Made her bitter batter better.

So ’twas better Betty Botta

Bought a bit o’ better butter.


Variations[edit]

Bronte Alberts' Version[edit]

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter

But the bit of butter Betty Botter bought was bitter

So Betty Botter bought a better bit of butter

A longer version[edit]

Betty Botter bought some butter, but, she said, The butter's bitter; If I put it in my batter, It will make my batter bitter. But, a bit of better butter will make my batter better. So, she bought a bit of butter better than her bitter butter, and she put it in her batter and the batter was not bitter. So, 'twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.[4]

Another version[edit]

Betty Botter bought some butter.

But Betty Botter found her butter bitter. So Betty Botter bought some better butter. A little bit of bitter butter didn't bother Betty.

But her better butter better not be bitter![5]

There was an animated version featured on PBS Kids Television Channel, animated by Lynn Tomlinson. In this variation the rhyme is as follows[edit]

Betty Botter bought some butter,

but she said her butters bitter.

So if she put it in her batter, it would make her batter bitter,

but a bit of better butter, that would make her batter better.

So, she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter,

And she put it in her batter, and her batter was not bitter.

So, T'was better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Jingle Book by Carolyn Wells" – via www.gutenberg.org.
  2. ^ "A Book of American Humorous Verse" edited by James Whitcomb Riley, Duffield & Company, New York, 1917, page 169, in which Ms. Wells' authorship and Macmillan's original copyright is acknowledged.
  3. ^ The Oxford dictionary of nursery rhymes, edited by Iona and Peter Opie, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1951; page 84-85
  4. ^ Smolkin, Laura. "Betty Botter" (PDF). virginia.edu.
  5. ^ YouTube video"Betty Botter".