Friday, September 19, 2008


I can't be believin' it.

'Spent most tha mornin' talkin' like some land-lubbin' stiff-leg.

It were a thick fog in me head that trussed me early noggin' to the jury mast o' the ghost ship Forgetfulness.
By the Furies, I sha'n't (is that correct, Erin?!) be so daft again.

Now, avast ye all! Out into the wide, big world ta spread the talk o' Piratin'! Off with ya, scamps and skallywags!

(today is always fun for me.)


Blogger Shameless said...


[Q] From Malcolm Pack: “Presuming that shan’t is an abbreviation of shall not, why do we not write sha’n’t?”

[A] The simple answer is that people quite often used to do so. There are examples in the Oxford English Dictionary from the latter part of the eighteenth century through to the early twentieth. However, it seems it has always been more common to write shan’t than sha’n’t — the OED has 123 examples of the former against only 21 of the latter.

An early one is from a work by Fanny Burney in 1796: “He’ll make himself so spruce, he says, we sha’n’t know him again”. A late one I’ve turned up is dated 1902, from The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett: “We sha’n’t sell again, Prince, until we are tired of our bargain”. This spelling is now almost never seen.

What is a little peculiar is that shan’t is actually older, being found in works from the end of the seventeenth century on, as in this one from Colley Cibber’s Careless Husband of 1704: “Nay, you shan’t stir a step”. Many well-known authors preferred it, like Jane Austen, who wrote in Sense and Sensibility in 1797: “You shan’t talk me out of my satisfaction”.

I would guess that the sha’n’t form eventually lost out because the double apostrophe was a nuisance to write and looked odd. The abbreviation, as you say, strictly demands the extra apostrophe, and it was probably the influence of logically minded eighteenth-century grammarians who persuaded many people to put the extra one in to start with — but whenever did logic ultimately matter in language?

11:59 AM  
Anonymous M "Yargh" Sherlock said...


12:42 PM  
Anonymous Erin said...

In pirate speak, I think all apostrophe usage is legal! :-)

1:33 PM  
Blogger Sarah Hilary said...

I never shiver me own timbers. I have a man I pay to do that for me.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Shameless said...

I'll bet you don't really pay him.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Sarah Hilary said...

Maybe not in money.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Sarah Hilary said...

Totally random but did you know that Kevin Shamel is an anagram of Heavenly Milk? Thought you'd like to know that.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Shameless said...

Wow, Sarah.

I don't think I DID know that. And I've done some anagramming of it.

And you cracked me up with your "maybe not in money" comment. I totally lol'd.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous M.Sherlock said...

Dude...your name is jesus nipple juice

1:58 PM  
Anonymous M."Creamy" Sherlock said...

Oh yeah i forgot to mention.

Anagrams of my name are.

"Hell! Heroine smack"

"Hell's Choice Mark"

"Oh hell! Sick Cream!"

2:11 PM  
Anonymous me again said...

Sarah Hilary also has the anagram of

"YA! harsh Liar"

and "Rashly a hair"

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pirates are hot.

11:25 AM  

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