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Joined: June 15, 2012
Comments posted: 22
Votes received: 17

Modern Antiquarian

Retired lecturer and book seller

Questions Submitted

Recent Comments

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.

Percy January 2, 2013, 12:53pm

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@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?

Percy January 2, 2013, 3:25am

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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.

Percy January 2, 2013, 2:40am

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@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.

Percy January 2, 2013, 1:29am

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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.

Percy January 1, 2013, 7:01am

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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'.

Percy December 15, 2012, 2:45am

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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?"

Percy November 26, 2012, 3:10am

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“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 . . . ?"

Percy November 25, 2012, 10:10am

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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.

Percy October 19, 2012, 12:28pm

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Bring / take

Could this be another example of the German 'interference' in American English which also accounts for 'fill out' rather than 'fill in' and conditional 'If I would . . .' constructions? Bringen translates both ways.

Percy October 19, 2012, 12:20pm

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@Warsaw Will - I agree reg- u-LAT-ory probably cons from regulation. But don't you think mandate has an equal stress on each syllable rather a stress on than the first?

Percy September 26, 2012, 10:53am

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Although I'm not sure how reg-u-LAY-tory came about.

Percy September 25, 2012, 12:42am

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This is not pretension, it is just the reasonable, but incorrect, assumption that forms of a word are all pronounced the same. Mandate is a commoner word than mandatory, so the pronunciation of the latter is assimilated to the former.

Percy September 25, 2012, 12:33am

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In Genesis 1.1 God creates heaven, but in verse 8 he names it 'Heaven' - then it reverts to being heaven at least in the Authorized (King James) Version.

I suppose as there is only one heaven and one hell the lower case is appropriate.

Percy August 30, 2012, 9:02am

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But it is a fact that 'Anglo' is often used to mean 'British' for example in Anglo-American.

A couple of other points. England never conquered Scotland, and the American colonies fought for independence from Britain not England.

English History as an academic discipline would not (nowadays) include the other parts of the British Isles except in so much as they related to England.

'Church of England' is actually a translation of Ecclesia Anglicana - a title also used before the break with Rome. Henry VIII in doctrine remained close to traditional Catholicism and the doctrinal statements of his schismatic church (as one might call it) became more conservative as his reign progressed. The term 'Henrician Catholic' is sometimes used to describe the Church of England during his reign. Many modern Anglo-Catholics looked back to this period as a representative of their own position.

Percy August 16, 2012, 12:56pm

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Perhaps in Anglo-Catholic, though that might have originally signified 'English' as opposed to 'Roman' Catholic.

But otherwise not.

Percy July 28, 2012, 11:25pm

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Same sort of thing.

Classic refers to quality; classical to a historical period.

In the West the classical period is the era of Ancient Greece and Rome.

A classic is the one of the best of its kind, or is considered to be a model or standard.

Jane Austen's novels are literary classics, but she wasn't an ancient Greek.

You could, of course, say the nineteenth century was the classical period of the English novel, of which Austen's are classics (but not all nineteenth century novels are).

Percy July 25, 2012, 12:34am

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There is a difference between the historical and the historic. The former is everything that happened; the latter what is considered to be significant. The former is fixed; the latter is a matter of assessment, revision and debate.

I suggest that when it is said something has changed history what is meant is that it has changed what in history we consider to be historic.

Things that changed history may belong to the latter category.

Percy July 24, 2012, 1:51am

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. . . as you would if you said Garla-shields (which is in Scotland not NE England).

Percy July 24, 2012, 12:32am

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Gey-la is the usual pronunciation of gala in the north-east of England as in the Durham Miners' Gala (gey-la).

Percy July 23, 2012, 10:09am

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