Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lurking Words

*Note to the Reader:  Bryan has read and pre-approved this post.  We're just having fun, read to the end and find the punchline.  Being averse to self-incrimination I will mention, in a vague sort of way, that somebody here takes life too seriously.

     Yesterday afternoon we were sitting at the table, eating scones meant to accompany tea.  However, that interminable five minute wait for the tea proved too long to wait for a warm scone.  So we ate, then we drank.  As we chatted, I was challenged on my use of the phrase, "believe you me."  Bryan asked where the phrase originated.  He suggested it was perhaps ghetto talk.  Oh no, I maintained, Old English.  The challenge was on, disbelief in Bryan's voice as he taunted me.  But the computer was handy and I Googled it.  I love the internet for these petty marital squabbles, and I'm blogging about it because I was right.
     Over at World Wide Words he explains that at one time a verb-subject-object sentence construction was allowed, especially in imperative sentences.  "Believe you me.  I am right."  In the King James Bible (1611) you can find the phrases "hear ye me" and "seek ye me."  So although the actual words "believe you me" weren't combined until 1919 or 1926, they represent archaic English sentence structure.  Read the post over at World Wide Words.  I read it with increasing smugness, laying an appropriate heavy emphasis on any word that proved my point.  The last sentence I read out at top volume.  I loved it.  That sentence summed up my position, proved me right, determined which one of us was literate.
     And Bryan?  He had moved to the Living Room.  He was laughing and said sotto voce to Ally, "I love to egg mom on."

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