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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: "But me no buts"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1341  Tuesday, 1 July 2003

[1]     From:   Clark J. Holloway <
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        Date:   Monday, 30 Jun 2003 18:03:37 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1321 Re: "But me no buts"

[2]     From:   William Davis <Davis 
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        Date:   Monday, 30 Jun 2003 23:43:58 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1321 Re: "But me no buts"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clark J. Holloway <
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Date:           Monday, 30 Jun 2003 18:03:37 -0700
Subject: 14.1321 Re: "But me no buts"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1321 Re: "But me no buts"

I would also submit:

"O me no O's,"
Ben Jonson, The Case is Altered, Act V, scene i. (Gifford scene
division).

and

"Tut, Pancridge, me no Pancridge;"
Ben Jonson, A Tale of a Tub, Act II, scene ii.

- Clark

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Davis <Davis 
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Date:           Monday, 30 Jun 2003 23:43:58 EDT
Subject: 14.1321 Re: "But me no buts"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1321 Re: "But me no buts"

Lea Luecking Frost writes,

>You've got the quote right, but the speaker wrong: it's York who says
>that, not Gaunt.

And later Janet Costa writes,

>Gee, I thought it sounded familiar because I used to hear it from either
>Mom or Dad at least once a week, when I was growing up - usually when
>there was no hope of getting what I wanted!!

I told my dad about my hasty post, attributing York's words to Gaunt,
whereupon my dad said, "Now Billy boy, always remember to check your
citations."  And, of course, I responded, "But dad, I...."  And he cut
me short, "Don't but me no buts, Billy, just do it."  It seems the
phrase "but me no buts" and all its variations are truly popular still
today - especially among parents.  Yet, I wonder where my dad heard it
first?  >From his mom?  If so, where did grandma learn it?  From some
other forebearer?  I wonder if this phrase, like many others that were
coined (or at least made famous) in plays and poetry, might not
attribute its longevity in our collective conscience from the original
words of Shakespeare? - A sort of verbal genealogy of words and phrases,
if you will.   And maybe the variations we have today (as well as
Shakespeare's variations on the same phrase, as pointed out by Karyn
White and a couple other good folks who emailed me privately) are simply
due to the speaker's attempt to tailor the phrase to new events by
intentionally inserting substitute words.  Or, perhaps, we simply change
the phrases by our lack of perfect memory.  After all, even though I had
the quote right, I certainly had the speaker wrong (this must be a sign
of my aging, but I forget what the process is called...memorial
deconstruction?).  So, are phrases to be changed and handed down, or are
they not to be changed and handed down - that is the question.   We may
never know the exact reasons in each case, but linguistic traces from
the past rise up to echo all around us everyday.

Best Regards,
Wm Davis

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