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Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?

Will Fly 08 Dec 09 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Catherine 19 Nov 12 - 05:04 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Nov 12 - 06:39 AM
maeve 19 Nov 12 - 08:32 AM
Will Fly 19 Nov 12 - 10:27 AM
maeve 19 Nov 12 - 01:58 PM
Jim Dixon 19 Nov 12 - 02:08 PM
maeve 19 Nov 12 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Nov 12 - 09:31 AM
Jim Dixon 20 Nov 12 - 01:45 PM
GUEST 20 Nov 12 - 01:48 PM
maeve 20 Nov 12 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 20 Nov 12 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Nov 12 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,Grishka 21 Nov 12 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Nov 12 - 09:58 AM
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Subject: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Dec 09 - 10:44 AM

Scottish 'Catters to the fore... and, no it's not a recipe.

I've been re-reading George MacDonald Fraser's very funny books of short stories about the adventures of a Scottish regiment in North Africa just after WW2, and in particular, the antics of one McAuslan. The fictional soldiers are, in the main, from Glasgow, and one of their shouts, when they get excited, is "Honey pears!"

Now, I lived in Glasgow for some years just after the war, and Scottish accents and sayings are no mystery to me, but I'm still left wondering what the significance of shouting "Honey pears" is. George MacDonald Fraser - who also wrote the "Flashman" series - is, sadly now not with us, so I can't ask him.

Any thoughts appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST,Catherine
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 05:04 AM

Hi

My grandad always shouted, "Honey Pears" after a wee drink. Our family come from Glasgow.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 06:39 AM

Could it be a miss-interpretation of something that sounds like 'honey pears'. Can't think what but it gives us more scope :-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: maeve
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 08:32 AM

I found the following courtesy Mr. Google:

The Complete McAuslan: All the Hilarious McAuslan Stories in One Volume By Geor An entertaining episode including the reference to honey pears is there.


" DSL - SNDS2   HINNIE, n., adj. I. Sc. form of Eng. honey. Also fig.
... I. 2. (12) Add variant honey perr.
Add quots.:
    *Gsw. 1987:
    Honey pears are still sold as such in Glasgow.
    *Gsw. 1993 Herald 18 Sep 21:
    Several prominent Glasgow businessmen were to be spotted yesterday in streets of the city toting baskets of pears — quite normal, I'm told, for the third Friday of September, but none of them uttering the traditional city vendor cry of "honey perrs". It was the day in which the ancient Trade Incorporations of Glasgow meet to elect their office-bearers for the coming year. Tradition holds that each craftsman leaves the meeting with a gift of pears." http://www.dsl.ac.uk/getent4.php?plen=1783&startset=2467978&dtext=sndn&query=HINNIE


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:27 AM

Thanks Maeve! If you've never read the McAuslan stories, I can recommend them - absolutely hilarious.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: maeve
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 01:58 PM

I believe you, Will. The excerpt I read was very funny.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 02:08 PM

From Of Husbandry: In Twelve Books: and His Book Concerning Trees by Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (London: A. Millar, 1745), page 248:
But we must take care to plant our orchards with the most generous pears that can be found. These are, the Crustuminian, the Royal, the Signinian, the Tarentinian, which are called Syrian, the Purple-coloured, the Superb, the Barley-pear, the Anician, the Navian, the Favonian, the Lateritan, the Dolabellian, the Turranian, the Warden, the Honey-pears, and the Early-ripe, and the Venus-pears, and some others, which it would be tedious now to enumerate.
From an article, Adventure with the Gypsies, by Mark Macrabin, the Cameronian, in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 38, May, 1820, page 160:
'Here, hand ye're lap,' said the cousin of bonny Kate Marshall, moved by this pathetic enumeration of his lost relative's talents, 'here's sunket for ye; I risked my neck on a high stane wa', my twa legs in a man trap, the black deil rive them into spunks, that employ sic disgracefu' engines, and exposed my person to the discharge of a ground gun, whilk makes a man draw the trigger against himself, a most unlawfu' weapon, never to talk of the terrors of three herds, and as mony dumb tykes, and a' to please a pair 0' sweet lips, and yet a' that my venturousness was rewarded with, was sax honey pears, sair riddled by wasps and worms; fifteen sugar pippins, sweeter never hung amang green leafs; some scores of damsons; and dizens 0' plumbs with a Latin name....'
From Paul Jones: A Romance by Allan Cunningham (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd [etc.], 1826), page 338:
There was a case came before him, Lady Emeline —ye will scarcely credit it—a young fellow, who stole honey-pears out of the garden of Glengavel, was seen, followed, and taken with six of those rare productions on his person.
From The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Volume 2 (Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1834), page 60:
"The golden pippins and honey pears" which were produced in the orchard, on or near the place once occupied by the notable pool, must not be entirely overlooked. The pippins grew on six remarkable trees: the pears on the same number of trees were no less remarkable, and the fruit, for flavour and sweetness, could not then be "equalled in any other garden of the district."
From The Life and Adventures of Jack of the Mill, by William Howitt (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1844), page 5:
There were pears almost as various. Swans'-eggs and honey-pears; the latter, little sweet yellow and rosy things, already ripe, and shewing, by sticks and stones, and broken pieces of branches, and quantities of green leaves lying under these trees, that somebody knew of them.
From The Manse Garden: Or, Pleasant Culture of Fruit Trees, Flowers, Vegetables, and Sweet Herbs by Nathanel Paterson (London: James Blackwood, 1860), page 73:
Then will your flower-buds once more see the sun, and rejoice in their liberty; whilst the pith of the tree, which the idle knobs consumed, will go to swell your store of juicy apples and honey pears.
From Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, Volume 4 edited by James Balfour Paul (Edinburgh: H. M. General Register House, 1902), page 309 [quoting an account from 1511]:
Item, the xij day of September, to ane frutt sellar, at the peir end of the New Havin, for hony peris to the King, . . . . . . iiij s.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: maeve
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 02:15 PM

Nice work, Jim.

I seem to remember Seckel pears having the nickname "honey pear".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 09:31 AM

Thanks for the quotes, Jim. I'd never seen a Roman numberal j before.

"The value of J as a Roman numeral was the same as I (1) but it was used on handwritten documents to prevent alteration. For example, the number 6 (VI) could be written as VJ and 7 as VIJ to prevent either from being changed to VIII."

I was wondering why soldiers would exclaim "Honey Pears!" and it occurred to me that very few of the things we exclaim actually make any sense. For example:

Holy moley!
My goodness!
Honestly!
Well, well, well!

None of them mean a thing, really.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 01:45 PM

Leenia: Your information about Roman numerals is interesting, but I doubt that it's wholly true. For example, why would the scribe write "iiij" for 4 when it's very unlikely someone would alter "iiii" to make it "iiiii"? Also, we would expect them to have some way of altering "lxx" so it couldn't be changed to "lxxx." (Maybe they did.) Also, if you wanted to change "ij" to "iij" couldn't you still do it by adding an "i" in front?

By the way, doesn't 4 shillings seem like an awful lot to pay for pears in 1511? (I assume that's what "iiij s." means. Anyone see another interpretation?) And isn't it strange that the accountant doesn't say how many pears he got for 4 shillings? How many pears can one king eat, anyway? OK, maybe he was having a party, or maybe the cook was planning to put up jam for the whole winter, or maybe the pears were meant to feed the whole household, servants and all.

Maybe I've got too much time on my hands.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 01:48 PM

As a total divert for American readers -- have just been re-reading a re-print of a fabulous Glasgow cartoon strip by the late, great Bud Neill whose first Lobey Dosser story appeared in the Evening Times newspaper in 1949.

Lobey Dosser (person who sleeps in a hallway) was the very Glasgow sheriff of Calton Creek and dealt with such characters as Chief Toffee Teeth and the arch-villain Rank Badyin. In one strip, rabbit farmer Vinegar Hill is threatened with foreclosure by Badyin who is after the plutonium that lies beneath the farm; Lobey comes up with the necessary money so Badyin switches plan to woo V.Hill's niece (who will inherit the farm) -- Miss HONEY PERZ! Just say it out loud.....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: maeve
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 01:49 PM

Jim- Thanks for the laugh!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 02:30 PM

Sorry -- Guest above with the Lobey Dosser nonsense was me!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 08:53 PM

Jim, what you say about the Roman numerals is true. Frankly, I think they put the j on the end out of habit.

As for the number of pears, I bet they didn't really care how many pears it bought. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer stomped in, all hot and bothered, demanding "What the hell happened to that iiij shillings?" they just wanted to answer, "I bought the pears for the Princess Royal's fourth birthday party with it, remember?"

And the Chancellor would remember, and he'd say, "Oh yeah. That's okay, then."

Life was simpler in the olden days. There were fewer statistics, for one thing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 09:43 AM

I heard that the reason why English words never end on "i" is that at some time in the Middle Ages, paper in England had so many dark spots which could be mistaken for "i"s. For example, "sill" could be read as "silli", and vice versa. With "y", the risk was minimized. The problem did not affect the word "sillier".

I guess the "j" served the same purpose in Roman numerals.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Honey pears!' - meaning?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Nov 12 - 09:58 AM

Interesting!


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