Tikki Tikki Tembo
Tikki Tikki Tembo is a story set in ancient China that provided the basis for a 1968 book by Arlene Mosel
Arlene Mosel
Arlene Tichy Mosel was an American author of children's literature who was best-known for her illustrated books Tikki Tikki Tembo, a retelling of a Chinese folk tale, and the award-winning The Funny Little Woman, which was the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1973.She was born...

, illustrated by Blair Lent
Blair Lent
Blair Lent was an American author and illustrator of mostly Chinese-themed books, including the popular 1968 children's book Tikki Tikki Tembo. In 1973 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his illustrations of The Funny Little Woman, by Arlene Mosel. He also illustrated the book House of Stairs...

. According to the story, it was custom in ancient China for parents to honor their firstborn sons with long, elaborate names that everyone was obliged to say completely—no nicknames, no shortening of any kind—while the second-born sons were usually given short, unimportant names. A boy named Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo and his little brother, Chang, are playing near a well, despite being warned by their mother not to. Chang falls into the well and his older brother runs to their mother and eventually, Chang is rescued. Some time later, the boys are again playing near the well, and this time, the older brother falls in. The little brother runs to their mother and shouts that "Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo has fallen into the well" over and over again because she can't hear him. He then goes to get the Old Man with the Ladder and uses the ladder to get Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo out of the well in the nick of time. The supposed lesson is that one reason Chinese names are often short and one syllable is because of the time it took for his brother to explain to people what happened to Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo as a result of his outrageously long name.

In 1997, the book was selected by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

on its list of the 50 best children's books of the previous 50 years.

However, it has also received criticism that it "reinforces the stereotype that Asian names sound like nonsense syllables," especially since the name of the title character is a string of sounds quite unlike actual Chinese.

"Nikki Nikki Tembo No So Rembo Oo Ma Moochi Gamma Gamma Goochi" is the name of a little Chinese boy in a story called "Long Name No Can Say" narrated by Paul Wing. It was available as an RCA Camden recording in the mid-1940s (RCA – Camden CAL 1044). It seems that this same story has been retold many times in many variations, subsequent to that time period, which is perhaps the origin of the "Tikki Tikki..." variety . A 1961 Golden Press variation of the story has the boy's name as "Sticky Sticky Stumbo..."

It has been suggested that the story probably originated from the Japanese folktale Jugemu
is a Japanese folktale and is one of the most famous stories in rakugo, a form of Japanese spoken entertainment. It has a simple storyline, with the most humorous part being the repeating of a ridiculously long name...

instead of a Chinese folktale. The inadvertent misrepresentation of a Japanese folktale as a Chinese one may explain why many native Chinese speakers have felt the story to be offensive as it inaccurately depicts their language and history. It is possible that the version of the story by Paul Wing may have been the source of this misunderstanding or at least responsible for popularizing it.
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