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Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are

Joybell 25 Jan 10 - 04:27 PM
Joybell 25 Jan 10 - 04:30 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Jan 10 - 05:23 PM
Joybell 25 Jan 10 - 07:34 PM
Joybell 25 Jan 10 - 07:58 PM
Jim Dixon 25 Jan 10 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,redhorse at work 26 Jan 10 - 08:37 AM
IanC 26 Jan 10 - 10:47 AM
Joybell 26 Jan 10 - 08:15 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: CLANCY OF THE OVERFLOW (Banjo Paterson)
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Jan 10 - 04:27 PM

I'll add my findings next but first off here's the poem. It's not here yet and it's a good one.

Clancy of the Overflow by Banjo Paterson

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
   Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
   Just "on spec", addressed as follows: "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
   (And I think the same was written in a thumbnail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
   "Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
   Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
   For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
   In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
    Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
   Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
   Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
   Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
   For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
   Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal -
   But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".

From The Bulletin, 21 December 1889.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Jan 10 - 04:30 PM

"... and we don't know where 'e are"
This line has always bothered me
I remember asking a teacher when I was in primary school about it.
I didn't think it rang true as a form of idiosyncratic grammar because I had never, still have never, heard anyone use it.

Our teacher said it was just to make the rhyme with "thumbnail dipped in tar."
But I've never been happy about that. It's such a well-crafted poem otherwise. 60 years it's worried me.
ANYWAY

I just found out that the phrase
" 'e don't know where 'e are" or " she don't know where she are"
was a popular catch-phrase at the time the poem was written.

There's a song that used it.
So -- It's a joke!!
Why were we not told?
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jan 10 - 05:23 PM

Hi Joy,
Off the top of my head, I recorded an old sea captain who sang the song 'The man who don't know where 'e are' which would date from about that period as a Cockney (London coster) music hall song by I think it might be Gus Elen or one of his contemporaries. I'm sure it would come up if you Googled it. Title could also be 'He's the man etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Jan 10 - 07:34 PM

Thanks, Steve. I didn't go beyond the realization that Patterson was using a phrase that people of the day would have heard. I did guess at that song being Cockney. I'll follow it up now.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Jan 10 - 07:58 PM

From Michael Kilgarriff "Sing Us One of the Old Songs":
" 'e Don't Know Where 'e Are". Written by Wright and Eplett 1890. Sung by Gus Elen. Parodied as "There Goes the Bloke Who Dunno Where 'e Are" in an 1894 version by Alec Hurley and sung by Marie Lloyd in Pretty Bo-peep at the Shakespeare Liverpool. Yet another parody entitled " 'e's Found Out Where 'e Are" had words by G. Wallice Arthur (who was also the performer) and music by Fred Eplett. Jack Jones's reply was sung by Arthur Rigby.

So there we go. The catch-phrase would seem to pre-date both the Patterson poem and the song. It would seem to be Cockney or "stage Cockney".
Cheers, Joy 'o's found out where she are.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Jan 10 - 08:59 PM

It is said that a lady went into a high-class music dealer's shop on Bond Street, London, and asked for the popular song "'E Don't Know Where 'E Are." The salesman said that he didn't have it, but that he would get it for her, and to her intense amusement she saw him write on a slip of paper:?"Get song 'He Does Not Know Where He Is.' "
?from The Critic, Number 669, (New York: December 15, 1894), page 416.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: GUEST,redhorse at work
Date: 26 Jan 10 - 08:37 AM

Cosmotheka recorded "'E don't know where 'e are"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: IanC
Date: 26 Jan 10 - 10:47 AM

Joybell

The verb to be (similar to its French counterpart) in normal usage is actually, historically, a conglomeration of 3 separate verbs

All parts except the 3rd person singular are essentially the verb "to am":
I am, we are, you are, they are (note that YOU is historically the plural. the correct singular is "thou art")

The 3rd person singular is essentially the verb "to is":
he/she/it is

The infinitive is the verb to be
to be.

In England, especially in the less "central" parts, such as small country villages, it is still perfectly possible to find the old forms used (often interchangeably). Probably the most usual is I be, you be, he/she/it be, we be, they be used often throughout England and especially in the West of the country.

In other parts, especially in the South and East of England, you will occasionally hear I is or you is though this is thought of as a singular and is thus seldom used for the plural.

The use of "are" in the 3rd person he are is certainly not uncommon in villages in East Anglia.

Of course, ignorant "purists" who know little of the history of the language will say that this is "wrong" but, as I said, they're ignorant.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'e don't know where 'e are
From: Joybell
Date: 26 Jan 10 - 08:15 PM

Thanks, Ian (-: back.
Great story Jim.


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