Today I learned that having the same number of syllables isn’t necessarily enough: “3 athletes,” for example, somehow doesn’t snap off the tongue the same way that “3 French hens” does.  Something to do with the hard sounds at the start/stop of “French,” perhaps?  Or something to do with “French” being drawled out to slightly more than one syllable?


Having already blown past the substantive issue of the artificiality of the numbers in this version of the classic song — after all, there are many more than 3 athletic treasures — we’re not about to get sidetracked by syllabification trifles.  Are we?  No.  Certainly not.

On the 3rd day of Christmas
Canada gave to me
Athletic stars
Far northern sites
And a nation, bounded by seas.

Ferguson Jenkins in a golf cart at Wrigley Field.
Ferguson Jenkins


Hayley Wickenehiser with Olympic and world medals
Hayley Wickenheiser
Wayne Gretzky in Rangers uniform
Wayne Gretzky