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June 15, 2012
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Retired lecturer and book seller
If he were alive, he would be 60 today.
If he had been alive, he would have been 60 yesterday.
But it's hard to see what the difference in meaning is.
What I am sceptical about is the suggestion of an early origin for the Edinburgh gardyloo.
The OED does not seem to know of it before the late 18th century. I think it might be more of a genteelism than a genuine example of French influence on Scots.
[1768 L. Sterne Sentimental Journey II. 135 It comes against you without crying garde d'eau.]1771 T. Smollett Humphry Clinker II. 227 The whole cargo is flung out of a back window..and the maid calls gardy loo to the passengers.1808 J. Jamieson Etymol. Dict. Sc. Lang., Jordeloo.1818 Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian ii, in Tales of my Landlord 2nd Ser. III. 44 She had made the gardy-loo out of the wrang window.
@WW Sorry. I sounded a bit grumpy there.
Actually I am a Northumbrian and am familiar with several of the words you mention there. Dinna fash yersel I think is more typically NE English than contemporary Scots. Griffiths Dictionary of NE Dialect suggests OFr fascher as the root.
There is no doubt about the influence of French on both English and Scots, but gardyloo is not so much influence as an alleged example of the use of a French expression. What is the evidence that it was actually used in Edinburgh?
So what this boils down to is that between the mid 17th and mid 18th centuries 'gardyloo' was a warning cry in Edinburgh. No earlier. No later. And no connection with WCs.
@WW Northumbrian indeed. I am not sure a couple of French speaking royals would have led to slops-servants shouting warnings in French to passers-by a century later. There was probably more German influence in Hanoverian England, but it doesn't seem to have had much influence on the lingo.
In any case the warning - as you say - seems to have been confined to Edinburgh, to the 17th century, and not to have had any connection (indeed the opposite) with water closets.
Mind you using Waterloo instead of waterclo' and then 'loo instead of 'clo still has a French reference.
Why would 16th century Scotsmen shout a warning in French? Unless, of course, they didn't want it to be understood.
The OED doesn't seem to know any examples before the 1930s.
I suggest the similarity in appearance between 'Waterloo' and 'water-closet' led to the joke substitution of the ending of the former for that of the latter.
I can remember losing a mark at school for writing 'hello' instead of 'hallo' in a dictation exercise. The teacher pronounced it as 'hello', but insisted the spelling was 'hallo'.
But in what sort of situation would you ask
"Where did you use to live?"
without a time expression such as "before you lived here"?
Wouldn't you be more likely to say
"Where have you lived?"
“Where used you to live before you came here?”
“Where did you use to live before you came here?”
I find both these a bit odd sounding. I'd use
"Where did you live before you came here? "
I used to say "Used you to . . . " but I think I'd say "Did you use to . . . ?" now.
What about "Do I ought . . . ?"
I agree with Josef.
I might also use 'this Wednesday' to mean the one just past, as opposed to 'last Wednesday' which would be the one before.
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