Viking Kids

Posted on Facebook yesterday, this entertaining composition:


The caption combines two kinds of word play on the original It takes a village to raise a child: a word exchange, of village and child; and a pun on raise / raze. And it alludes to the reputation of the Vikings as ravaging and pillaging as they move across the countryside.

The composition belongs to the genre of ecards, captioning as art or cartooning, slogans as art or cartooning, Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts, etc., which I’ll lump together here under the ecard subheading of cartoons.

[Added on 1/24: I see now that in a 5/30/14 posting I considered creations in which

text (rather than image) is the crucial component, and the result is intended as art, humor, or narrative (often two or more of these at once) — making these creations hard to classify

and suggested the name texty creations, or texties for short, for them.]

I don’t know the source of the composition, which (I see from a Google images search) has been passed around on a couple dozen Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. pages, but never with an attribution.

On word exchanges: these are, in effect, word-level Spoonerisms, and like lower-level Spoonerisms they occur both as inadvertent errors and (as here) as deliberate word play.

Now, on the original of the text. From Wikipedia:

It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us is a book published in 1996 by First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Clinton presents her vision for the children of America. She focuses on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child’s well-being, and advocates a society which meets all of a child’s needs.

… The book’s title is attributed to an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” The saying and its attribution as an “African” proverb were in circulation before it was adopted by Clinton as the source for the title of her book. Indeed, the saying previously provided the source for the title of a children’s book entitled It Takes a Village by Jane Cowen-Fletcher, published in 1994.

The authenticity of the proverb is debatable as there is no evidence that this precise proverb genuinely originated with any African culture. However, numerous proverbs from different cultures across Africa have been noted that convey similar sentiments in different ways. As one poster on a scholarly list wrote, “While it is interesting to seek provenance in regard to the proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ I think it would be misleading to ascribe its origin to a single source…. Let me give a few examples of African societies with proverbs which translate to ‘It takes a village…’: In Lunyoro (Banyoro) there is a proverb that says ‘Omwana takulila nju emoi,’ whose literal translation is ‘A child does not grow up only in a single home.’ In Kihaya (Bahaya) there is a saying, ‘Omwana taba womoi,’ which translates as ‘A child belongs not to one parent or home.’ In Kijita (Wajita) there is a proverb which says ‘Omwana ni wa bhone,’ meaning regardless of a child’s biological parent(s) its upbringing belongs to the community. In Swahili, the proverb ‘Asiyefunzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu’ approximates to the same.” The origin of the popular saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is a mystery. Some people believe the saying originated in an ancient African proverb; others believe it came from a Native American Tribe.

A different line of humor based on the African proverb:


This one turns on the semantics of the proverb. If it takes a village, then one person (even the mother) is insufficient — so to satisy the requirement, the mother needs to find a village to do the job.

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