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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Observation about ducdame
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0669  Monday, 8 October 2007

From: 		Stephanie Kydd <
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Date: 		Thursday, 4 Oct 2007 07:34:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Observation about ducdame
Comment: 	SHK 18.0649 Observation about ducdame

The traditional interpretation of 'ducdame' as 'duc ad me' (L. 'come to 
me') probably has some merit, as it is impossible to pronounce the hard 
consonants 'c' and 'd' together without an unvoiced schwa between them. 
'Duc ad me' is also evocative of 'ducent damnatum domum': 'will condemn 
and drag home as a fraudulent debtor' (Charlton T. Lewis, 'An Elementary 
Latin Dictionary'). This certainly ties in with Jaques' opinion about 
'any man' who 'turne[s] Asse' and 'leav[es] his  wealth and ease'.

However, I agree that 'duc' almost certainly refers to Duke Senior (the 
play is set in France, after all!). 'Ducdame' is trisyllabic, as 
evidenced by 'Come hither', the phrase it replaces. 'Dame' did not, 
therefore, rhyme with 'same' but with 'Sammy'. 'Dame' is a probable 
variant of 'damme' or 'dammy', both the profane oath 'damn me' and 'a 
person addicted to using this oath; a profane swearer' (OED). Most 
likely, Jaques either calls the Duke a 'damme' (hardly commendatory, as 
evidenced by the OED quotation: 'Punks and dammy-boys'), or imprecates 
himself - i.e., 'Damn me for following the Duke'.

To my knowledge, 'dame' is not used elsewhere in Shakespeare except to 
or as descriptive of a woman. Rarely does Shakespeare insult a man by 
calling him a 'girl'. Usually, the insult specifically deals with 
impotence or emasculation. Effeminates and homosexuals are in a 
different category altogether.

Stephie Kydd

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