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Dipsy meets tragic end in playground song

"I love you, you love me. Together we will kill DipsyI" goes the song you'll never hear in Teletubby land. This violent version ends with Dipsy getting stabbed through the heart and shot in the head. And, although most people can hum the Neighbours tune, not many adults know the alternative words: "Neighbours . . . Pick your nose and taste the flavours . . ."

The two songs, currently sweeping the country's playgrounds, are examples of the ingenious way in which children adapt modern film and television references into older, more traditional playground traditions. All types of childish songs, insults and games came under scrutiny last week at a conference on children's Oral Culture at Sheffield University.

Elizabeth Grugeon, senior lecturer in teacher education at De Montfort University in Bedford, said: "Children are too original to simply adopt media stereotypes, instead they are adapted into far older playground routines. Words and tunes for traditional games are altered to take in references to television programmes."

Mrs Grugeon's research has also revealed that girls ruled the badlands of primary school playgrounds. Whereas 10 years ago, boys dominated with games such as British Bulldog and football, today girls' play has "a new self-confident and aggressive air". Innocent-looking singing and clapping games often contain "mantras of abuse" about boys such as "Girls go to Mars to get more stars; Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider."

Professor John Widdowson, director of the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition, told delegates there were "lessons to be learned in the playground for every teacher".

Professor Widdowson, who has studied the way speech patterns and stories are passed down the generations, believes insults such as: "Silly sloppy double-decker disconnected half-baked sausage" - from a seven-year-old girl - are fine examples of creativity and control of language.

He said: "Children are great enthusiasts for metaphor and simile and rhythm and humour - until they get into the classroom and then it all evaporates."

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