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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
What are 'delicate wits?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0699  Wednesday, 13 April 2005

From:           JD Markel <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005 10:28:37 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.0684 What are 'delicate wits?'
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0684 What are 'delicate wits?'

Thanks Stephen and Norman.

As shown with the Shakespeare cites "delicate" then, as I believe now,
in its most common usage relates a sense fineness or fragility with a
positive, or non-negative, connotation.  Cf. dainty and flimsy.

There's a hierarchical aspect too.  Rich men's scandals are "delicate
affairs."  For the poor they're "tawdry matters."  Delicate is a
work-horse word.

I hadn't thought to consult a dictionary for a phrase, thanks for the
Florio reference.  "Delicate wit" in the usages I seen generally would
match "keen" and "learned."  I think a good modern parallel is "refined
sense of humor."

For the comment I interpreted as sarcastic, Florio's "slye, wylie,
craftie" would be good matches.  That writer was a divine commenting
negatively on a humorous secular appropriation of a bible passage.
"Smart-alecky" or "cheeky" may be good modern matches too.

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