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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: "But me no buts"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1360  Thursday, 3 July 2003

[1]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jul 2003 15:20:44 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"

[2]     From:   Clark J. Holloway <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jul 2003 21:27:41 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"

[3]     From:   William Davis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jul 2003 02:21:07 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jul 2003 15:20:44 -0400
Subject: 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"

Checking the OED2 (quotation search) for the phrase "me no " gives 160
results if you include the space after "me ".  The earliest one that
seems to conform to the pattern in question is as follows:

(C. 1300) Maximon in Rel. Ant. I. 120
"Hunten herd y blowe, Hertes gonne rowe, Stunte me no ston."

Fran Teague
http://www.english.uga.edu/~fteague

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clark J. Holloway <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jul 2003 21:27:41 -0700
Subject: 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"

Bill Lloyd wrote:

>"Ease me no easings..."  George Peele, Edward I, Act 1 sc 2, TLN 422
>[Q1593]
>
>Presumably this is not evidence of Shakespeare's hand in Edward I[!].
>I think this is the earliest one so far cited on SHAKSPER? It would be
>interesting to see how early we can find them. Anyone been catching up
>on Lyly or Gascoigne lately? Skelton? Chaucer? Tell me no tales...

1592, Kyd, Soliman & Perseda, i. iii:

BASILISCO: What, would'st thou have me a Typhon
To bear up Pelion or Ossa? ...

PISTON: Typhon me no Typhons, but swear upon my Dudgeon
dagger not to go till I give thee leave, but stay with me and
look upon the tilters.

- Clark

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Davis <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Jul 2003 02:21:07 EDT
Subject: 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1348 Re: "But me no buts"

Bill Lloyd writes,

>I think that "but me no buts" and similar phrases ( X me no Xes) must be
>examples of a formula that predates Shakespeare. SHAKSPEReans have
>recently shown that these phrases can be found in a number of authors.

This is a great point.  From all the samples given so far, it certainly
looks like this particular phrase was a common one in Shakespeare's day
(which means it likely would have taken at least one generation
predating Shakespeare to become "common" - and most likely it goes
further back than that).  Even though it predates Shakespeare, however,
I just can't help wondering to myself if the phrase would have survived
into today's vernacular without Shakespeare's reinforcement
(particularly the variations in such a well-known play as Romeo and
Juliet).  I know this is hard to say, one way or the other, but is it
possible that Shakespeare's use of certain phrases may have popularized
them across generations, which otherwise would have died out?  Many
plays contain this formula phrase, but how often do people hear those
plays to reinforce it, particularly if they are more obscure?  (not that
a phrase needs to be in a play or a book to survive multiple generations
in a language, since some of them survive well enough on their own).
Yet, when I see how many words and phrases in our everyday speech come
directly from Shakespeare's texts, it makes me wonder which other words
and phrases owe their survival to his plays, even though they were not
originally coined by him.

Hmmm.  This sounds like the beginnings of a dissertation.  Has anyone
trod down this path before?  If so, I'd love to know where to look.

All the best,
Wm Davis

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