In Dutch, we have a nursing rhyme that we sing to children before going to bed:
Naar bed, naar bed, zei Duimelot,
Eerst nog wat eten, zei Likkepot,
Waar zal ik het halen? zei Lange Jan,
Uit grootmoeders kastje! zei Ringeling,
Dat zal ik verklappen! zei het kleine ding.
Which translates to:
(It's time to go) to bed, to bed, said Thumb-"lot",
First (we must) eat something, said Potlicker,
Where shall I get that? said Long John,
From grandmother's cupboard! said Ring-ling,
I will tell on you! said the small thing.
As you may have guessed, this nursing rhyme is about fingers. The person reciting it, will grab each finger of the child by the tip and move it back and forth as if imitating that the finger is talking, while telling it. These are not our usual words for fingers in Dutch. They are simply called:
Duim (Cognate to thumb), wijsvinger (pointing finger), middelvinger (middle finger), ringvinger (ring finger), and pink (pinkie).
What is interesting about these nursing rhyme names, is that they contain a fascinating parallel in Tuareg. So let's look at these fingers individually.
Duimelot is a compound of Duim 'thumb' (< PGm. *þumô) and lot which Guus Kroonen proposes to be an old Germanic retention of *luttaz 'shoot', which we still find in Dutch lat "A type of long, flattened stick" with a different root vowel.
Like Dutch, Tuareg has an old, well reconstructable word for "Thumb": igmăš (< Proto-Berber *ikmăz)
A pick-pocket type compound (a compound where the object follows the verb), which is rare in Dutch, like it is in English.
The association of 'index finger' with licking is not uncommon in the languages of the world, for example Classical Greek: λιχανός "licking; index finger".
Tuareg has an uncanny parallel with Dutch here, the index finger may either be called təllăɣ ikassăn "it licks bowls", or ămulăɣ ən kassăn "bowl licker", which for all intents and purposes is almost a literal parallel to likkepot.
Using the adjective lang and the typical John Doe equivalent Jan, this name is quite transparent. It is interesting to note that already at very early times this finger would be named the "rude finger", cf. Latin digitus impudicus "The offensive finger"
The Tuareg word for middle finger is humorously matter-of-fact, but has no obvious parallel with Dutch, other than that it emphasizes the length of the finger: zəǵrət bănnan "Long for no reason"
This word consists of ring combined with the suffix -ling which English speakers will recognize in earthling. It is very normal for the ring finger to refer to the ring that is worn on it, cf. French annulaire.
Also Tuareg refers to this use of the finger: i n təḍhuten "the one of the rings", tăqqăn tiḍhuten "attaching rings".
Het kleine ding
The pinkie is obviously referred to as the little thing, because it is. In Tuareg we find two different words for 'pinkie', whic certainly both have an interesting hsitory which is not elaborated on in Heath's Mali Tuareg dictionary: talăqqe n yăḷḷa "God's Pauper", lăɣlăɣ aman "constantly drinking water". The reduplicated root lăɣlăɣ "Drink (water) constantly" is almost certainly derrived from the verb "to lick" discussed above.
The word for Finger in Berber itself, while clearly old, and undoubtedly Proto-Berber, is notoriously difficult to reconstruct.
In Tuareg a finger is an ăḍaḍ, And while something similar is suggested by the majority of the Berber languages, Ghadamès and Zénaga point at some kind of medial velar element: Ghd. aḍəkkəd pl. ḍuḍān "finger", Zng. aḍaġḏiʔ "finger"