Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Come to taw?

John Minear 08 Aug 02 - 09:35 AM
katlaughing 08 Aug 02 - 10:36 AM
masato sakurai 08 Aug 02 - 12:19 PM
masato sakurai 08 Aug 02 - 12:32 PM
masato sakurai 08 Aug 02 - 12:45 PM
John Minear 08 Aug 02 - 02:14 PM
John Minear 10 Aug 02 - 12:31 PM
katlaughing 10 Aug 02 - 12:47 PM
masato sakurai 10 Aug 02 - 12:52 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 02 - 02:56 PM
John Minear 10 Aug 02 - 04:45 PM
Uncle_DaveO 11 Aug 02 - 09:51 AM
katlaughing 11 Aug 02 - 10:38 AM
John Minear 11 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM
John Minear 11 Aug 02 - 10:54 AM
katlaughing 11 Aug 02 - 11:02 AM
John Minear 11 Aug 02 - 05:02 PM
katlaughing 12 Aug 02 - 10:40 AM
John Minear 19 Aug 02 - 06:27 PM
katlaughing 19 Aug 02 - 07:32 PM
John Minear 20 Aug 02 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Davetnova 20 Aug 02 - 08:23 AM
John Minear 20 Aug 02 - 09:15 AM
masato sakurai 21 Aug 02 - 01:41 AM
katlaughing 21 Aug 02 - 02:19 AM
Bob Bolton 21 Aug 02 - 02:43 AM
masato sakurai 21 Aug 02 - 03:12 AM
John Minear 21 Aug 02 - 07:27 AM
katlaughing 21 Aug 02 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,Louise V. 15 Mar 12 - 10:21 AM
Bert 15 Mar 12 - 03:09 PM
John Minear 15 Mar 12 - 09:51 PM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Mar 12 - 01:43 PM
John Minear 16 Mar 12 - 01:55 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 09:35 AM

In the thread about Limber Jim, which is a discussion of the origins of the song "Buckeye Jim", there is a verse that goes:

Wake up snakes and come to taw,
We won't have any more of your link and law.

I am interested in the meaning of the phrase "come to taw". It is probably regional, and perhaps Southern. I found one reference to it as a phrase in a Google search at click here, "His son replied: "Don't let it bother you. It will all come to taw at the right time."

The word "taw" can have to do with a Southern game of marbles, and refer to the large "shooter". Or it can have to do with a form of tanning leather, or preparing flax (tow). It can be a form of "tow" as in "towing a boat." It is also a river in England - the Taw. I have tried a number of online dictionary searches but didn't get anywhere. Has anyone ever heard this phrase before?

There was also a race horse by the name of "Come-to-taw" in 1886.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 10:36 AM

Maybe it is from "to toe the line" as in behave...that would seem in line with training a horse, dog, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 12:19 PM

An English-Japanese dictionary I have says "to come/bring to taw" means "to come/bring to the starting point" (from a game of marbles). I've found some examples of the word (underlines mine), though I'm not certain about their meanings:

(1) Week ends meant work in the field, in the woods to get heating or cook wood for the house. Sometimes it was other things, but occasionally we had time to play. Marbles. We were not allowed to play "Keeps" with other children. At home we played "Rolley-holey." We would start at a line and shoot for the first hole, then the second, then the third, then the fourth that we called "purgatory." Then we went back to first. The first player around was the winner. One kept shooting until he hit every hole. If he missed a shot he had to yield to the other player. Dad often played with us. If one felt he could hit the other's marble with his marble he tried, and if he hit, the other had to go back to "taw"--the starting line. If you were underprivileged and did not play such a, the word "Taw" can be found in your dictionary. It was also the name of a favorite shooting marble.
--From HERE.

(2) But these Northern agitators of Slavery were not satisfied with the proceedings of Congress on the subject. They, I suppose, intended to abolish it in the States first, and then march their forces to the Atlantic, and embark them on board of canoes, and take the vessels on the high seas engaged in the Slave Trade, and bring them to taw, too! These would-be-called philanthropists seemed to have forgotten the old maxim that, "if you wish to find the spring, go to the head of the branch;" for they could stop the boil, and then the strength of the current would be greatly mitigated.
--Berry Harrison, Slavery and Abolitionism (1861), p. 10.

(3) All agreed to this except one young man. He stood out. Then some one happened to get a hunch that he was the only unmarried man in the combination. It was plain that he had intentions on the widow and planned to copper the whole pile by a matrimonial coup. The rest of the gang made short work of him. They found out that he was engaged to a girl in his district. Then they called him into open meeting and gave him just a week in which to get out the invitations--told him that if he didn't make good at the altar on schedule time the young lady would get a round-robin, or something of that sort, giving him a character that would last the rest of his life.
He came to taw quick, but inferred that he should expect to be handsomely remembered by his friends on the happy occasion. And he was. He received enough pickle castors, web-footed cake forks, spoons and table ware to stock the best jewelry store the little town had ever seen--and he opened business right away after the honeymoon. The other fellows thought they had done something mighty slick.
--FORREST CRISSEY, Tattlings of a Retired Politician (1903, 1904), Chapter II.

(4) All other bills in proportion. I, the said Capt. Jim, do hereby further declare to those indebted to me for eating, sleeping, drinking, or upon contract of any kind whatsoever, that unless they come forward immediately and make settlement, Michael Scott was never in Scotland if I don't sent a constable after them to bring them to "taw." so look out for Conklin or Ward.
--Biographies For Muscatine County Iowa 1889: "A PROCLAMATION"

~Masato


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 12:32 PM

(5) October 2, 1890 - A man from the country became very obstreperous on the Square on Monday afternoon, an overdose of corn liquor being the apparent cause of his trouble, and it took two custodians of the peace to hold him down. A friend of his drove out of town a few moments afterwards, whipping his mule in great fashion, and hurling defiance at the police. He too was promptly captured, however, by Policeman Dargan, after an exciting chase, and "brought to taw". By these little incidents the coffers of the town were nicely replenished on Tuesday morning.
--History of Darlington PD


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 12:45 PM

(6) This game is sometimes called Injun, a corruption of Indian. in., probably because the game is a game of extermination. For, in order to win, you must kill all the other players. Hence, you can see that "First" plays at a disadvantage, there being no one for him to kill. If he knocks out a duck he must replace it. If a taw stops inside the ring, that is a fatal shot, for lie has killed himself and is out of the game. So when the first player shoots he does not knuckle down, but toes the taw line and tosses his taw for a good position near the ring.
For good and sufficient Reasons the second player has no desire to get near the first, so he throws his marble with sufficient force to send it through the ring out of reach of First hoping that his taw may be fortunate enough to knock out a duck on its way. Because if number two knocks Out a duck, he can, before replacing the duck, go back to taw and holding the duck in his left hand shoot his taw with his right so that it will strike on the top or side of the duck and fly off rear First's taw, which he may then hit and kill.
--Block, Square Ring, or Big Injun (original meaning in a game)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 02:14 PM

Masato, these are some amazing examples! Thanks, very much. I wondered if it didn't have something to do with marbles, and I looked at several websites, but only found references to the "taw" as the "shooter", and to the "taw line" as the position from which one shot his marble. To "bring to taw" or "come to taw" as a return to the starting point would certainly make sense as a name for a race horse! Perhaps we would say, "it will all come back around at some point," or "what goes around, comes around". Or simply, "to come around" to seeing something, or agreeing with something. Your second example is especially interesting in relationship to the verse from "Limber Jim" with regard to the second line which is "we won't have any more of your link and law" or perhaps "Lincoln Law". In this case, the reference to "snakes" may be more like "snakes in the grass" or some other derogatory term, and might have had a specific historical reference at some point. The verse is interesting because it is so different from the other three.

I would be interested to know if "taw" in this sense comes from England or Ireland, and is it still in current use in relation to marble games? And if anyone has heard the phrase used otherwise - "come to taw".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 12:31 PM

I'm still wondering if anyone has heard this phrase "Come to taw". Masato found a good definition for it and some excellent historical examples. I wonder if it is still in current usage at all.

I also looked for "wake up snakes" and found this site on cowboy lingo, with this example:

Calls to Gently Awaken Slumbering Cowhands

·Wake up, Jacob! Day's a-breaking! Peas in the pot, And the hoecakes a-baking!

·Wake up, snakes! Day's a-breaking! Wake up snakes and bite a biscuit!
·Roll out, roll out while she's hot!

·Bacon in the pan, Coffee in the pot; Get up and get it-- Get while it's hot.

·If you can't get up, there are men in Dodge that can.

The example of "come to taw" quoted in my opening note came from the panhandle of Florida around 1907. This phrase, "come to taw", was collected by "a noted etymolojist and neologist of San Francisco", Peter Tamony (1902-1985). That's pretty much the extent of the Google search. Does anyone know of a good online source for colloquialisms?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 12:47 PM

Turtle Old Man,

I've just tried reaching my dad by phone to ask him your question. He wasn't home. I am sure he will be later, though, and I will ask. He and his father were cowboys and quite eloquent..his language is still salty and peppered with colourful phrases.

Also, while it is not a formal site, we had a wonderful thread a few years ago, Colloquiallisms- Post 'em and Define 'em! in which you might be interested. If I remember correctly, there were some links included on some postings.

Thanks,

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 12:52 PM

Turtle Old Man, the correct link to "Cowboy Lingo" is THIS.
~Masato


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 02:56 PM

Turtle Old Man wondered whether "Taw" is still in use in the game of marbles. I can't speak for 2002, but in my boyhood in the middle 30s it certainly was, in Minnesota.

Dave Oesterreich


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 04:45 PM

Masato, thanks for posting that corrected cowboy link. Maybe the Mudcat Magicians can go in and fix my mistake. I get lost in the transitions sometimes! And thanks for the thread info, Kat, I will look forward to spending some time on that. Dave, I played marbles a lot in the late forties and fifties in Tennessee, but don't remember "taw". The phrase, "come to taw" may not be Southern at all. I'll be interested to hear what your Dad says, Kat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 09:51 AM

Seems to me the word was used as to marbles in either Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. That puts it at least in the very early 19th century, if so.

Dave Oesterreich


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 10:38 AM

Hmmm...just spoke to my dad and he's never heard it before; of course that just means it wasn't in use in Western Colorado in his day. Sorry, T.O.M.

I did find this use of "taw" in Ulysses (my emphasis):

Cyclops

I WAS JUST PASSING THE TIME OF DAY WITH OLD TROY O THE D.M.P. at the corner of Arbour hill there and be damned but a bloody sweep came along and he near drove his gear into my eye. I turned around to let him have the weight of my tongue when who should I see dodging along Stony Batter only Joe Hynes.

-- Lo, Joe, says I. How are you blowing? Did you see that bloody chimneysweep near shove my eye out with his brush?

-- Soot's luck, says Joe. Who's the old ballocks you were talking to?

-- Old Troy, says I, was in the force. I'm on two minds not to give that fellow in charge for obstructing the thoroughfare with his brooms and ladders.

-- What are you doing round those parts? says Joe.

-- Devil a much, says I. There is a bloody big foxy thief beyond by the garrison church at the corner of Chicken Lane - old Troy was just giving me a wrinkle about him - lifted any God's quantity of tea and sugar to pay three bob a week said he had a farm in the county Down off a hop of my thumb by the name of Moses Herzog over there near Heytesbury street.

-- Circumcised! says Joe.

-- Ay, says I. A bit off the top. An old plumber named Geraghty. I'm hanging on to his taw now for the past fortnight and I can't get a penny out of him.

-- That the lay you're on now? says Joe.



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM

With regard to the verse from "Limber Jim", there are two things to remember. First of all, even though the song was collected in the Piedmont area of North Carolina in 1939 (Elon College), the lady, Mrs. Patty Newman, who sang it for Fletcher Collins, had lived in Missouri for the first nineteen years of her life, and had attended Antioch College in Ohio. Secondly, the only known precedent for this song that we've discovered so far was collected by Lafcadio Hearn on the wharf in Cincinnati, "on the banks of the Ohio". Hearn published this version of "Limber Jim" in 1876 and Mrs. Newman can be dated back to 1870. As we have discussed in the other thread, the song may have originated on the rivers - Mississippi/Ohio, which would tie it in with Huck and Tom and their use of "taw". Mrs. Newman may have carried it back to North Carolina with her when she married and returned home to live there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 10:54 AM

Kat, our messages passed in ether. Would you like to give us an interpretation of what "taw" means in the context of this conversation from ULYSSES?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 11:02 AM

Haven't a clue, Turtle Old Man (btw, any relation to one of my fav recording artists "Coyote Old Man?")...I just found the reference in a search of phrases online. I had thought perhaps "tea" but that doesn't seem right considering the earlier "tea" in the conversation. Sorry...

I've just sent Art Thieme an email, thinking he may have missed this thread whilst in the midst of moving. This is HIS kind of thread and he is pretty canny about such things, so perhaps he'll be along and let us know what he might know about it.:-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 05:02 PM

Kat, I don't know "Coyote Old Man". There's a note here about my name: Turtle. I look forward to hearing from Art. And anybody else, about "taw" or "coming to taw" or "Ulysses" or any of this.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 10:40 AM

Nothing new except that dad was pleased with himself. He remembered, in the middle of the night, that he used to call the shooter marble a "taw" when he was kid...so that places that use in Colorado of the late teens/early 1920's. His shooter was alwaysa "steelie" or a big glass marble. I told him I still had all of my marbles and he said good, at 85 he's lost a few!*bg*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 06:27 PM

I'm still looking for information of the old phrase "come to taw" from the last verse of Patty Newman's version of "Buckeye Jim"

Wake up snakes and come to taw,
We won't have any more of your link and law.
Go limber, Jim, you can't go,
Go weave and spin, you can't go, Buckeye Jim.

I did find another song that uses a variant of "wake up snakes". It is in an old book called AMERICAN MOUNTAIN SONGS, compiled by Ethel Park Richardson, edited and and arranged by Sigmund Spaeth, published by Greenberg (I didn't get a date). The last song, on page 104, is "Wake, Snakes!"

Wake, snakes! Day's a breakin',
Peas in the pot an' the hot cakes a bakin'
Snake baked a hoe cake 'an set the frog to mind it
Frog fell a-noddin' an' the lizzard come 'an stole it!
Fetch back my hot cake, you long tail'd nanny!

This looks like a combination of two different songs. The first two lines are similar to the cowboy wakeup calls mentioned earlier, and the rest of the song is often found on its own.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 07:32 PM

My apologies if someone already entered this above. I think someone did mention tanning skins, but I wasn't sure about the rest of this definition from www.yourdictionary.com:

Main Entry: 1.taw
Pronunciation: 'to
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, to prepare for use, from Old English tawian; akin to Old High German zawjan to hasten, Gothic taujan to do, make
Date: before 12th century
: to dress (skins) usually by a dry process (as with alum or salt)

It also said the first use of taw to mean playing marble was in 1863. Another interesting meaning given was that of square dance partner. Maybe that would go along with the cowboy references?

Here are some other sources which might lead to some answers:

World Wide Words Link Page

American Dialect Society

Dictionary of American Regional English (Project)

Great thread!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 07:47 AM

Kat, thanks for those links, and for the square dance reference. The tanning reference is also interesting. One could imagine what "coming to taw" might mean in that context! Getting one's hide tanned, etc. I found another thread that is somewhat related to the "wake up snakes" reference Wake Up Jacob.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: GUEST,Davetnova
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 08:23 AM

Prbably in no way relevant but in Scotland "the Taws" was a heavy leather belt whose sole purpose was punishing schoolchildren, every teacher had one. We were hit across the palms with it. The end was split and I believe most of them were made in Lochgelly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 09:15 AM

It is amazing that one word "taw" could have so many different meanings. When I was in the sixth grade, I went to a little one room school house in southeastern Iowa - about 1954 - and the teacher used a wooden ruler. She would slap the desk with it and then your fingers. She was mean!

Well, we've got everything from a leather belt used for the abuse of schoolchildren to a squaredance partner, to a marble shooter, to a tanning process, to a line marking a starting or beginning point, to a reference to processing flax or "tow", to a so far unexplained reference in a quote from Joyce above. I suppose that it is stretching the point to see any relation between the tanning process and the leather belt..."Come to taws!"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 01:41 AM

This is the entry taw, sb.² from The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989) [pronunciation omitted because I cannot make an inverted "c"]:

taw, sb.² Also 8 tau, 9 tor. [Origin unascertained, and order of senses uncertain: perh., like alley, ALLY sb.², an abbreviation.]

a. A large choice or fancy marble, often streaked or variegated, being that with which the player shoots.
1709 STEELE Tatler No. 30 ¶1 He is hiding or hoarding his Taws and Marbles. a1761 CAWTHORN Wit & Learn. Poems (1771) 48 He minded but his top, or taw. 1807, 1833 [see ALLY sb.²]. 1837 DICKENS Pickw. xxxiv, After enquiring, whether he had won any alley tors or commoneys lately. 1843 THACHERAY Irish Sk. Bk. xxiv, Large agate marbles or 'taws'. a1845 HOOD Clapham Acad. xiv, Five who stoop The marble taw to speed. 1857 HUGHES Tom Brown I. iii, His small private box was full of peg-tops, white marbles (called 'alley-taws' in the Vale), [etc.]. 1876 GRANT Burgh Sch. Scotl. II. v. 179 A still greater favourite is shooting a 'taw', which requires no small dexterity.

b. transf. A game played with such marbles.
1709 STEELE Tatler No. 112 ¶3 A Game of Marbles, not unlike our modern Taw. 1784 COWPER Tiroc. 307 To kneel and draw The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw. 1798 Sporting Mag. XII. 169 At cricket, taw, and prison-bars, He bore away the bell. 1840 THACKERAY Paris Sk.-bk. (1869) 45, I would lay a wager that...their school learning carried them..only to the game of taw.

c. The line from which the players shoot in playing the game. Hence in phrases: see quots.
1740 DYCHE & PARDON s.v. Knuckle, They frequently say, Knuckle down to your taw, or fit your hand exactly in the place where your marble lies. 1840 Spirit of Times 7 Mar. 6 We have understood that Boston..will be en route for the stable..at Columbia, South Carolina--that is, if Wagner 'comes to taw'. 1854 MISS BAKER Northampt. Gloss. s.v., 'Shoot from taw'. 'You don't stand at taw'... 'If you don't do so and so I'll bring you to taw'. 1868 in Amer. Speech (1965) XL. 132 He smiles at all the girls he meets, And you smile at him on the crowded streets, Why don't you make him 'come to taw', I know he wants a mother-in-law. 1881 Leicesters. Gloss. s.v., A ring is scratched on the ground, and at some distance from it a straight line called taw. Ibid., We thus get the phrase..'come up to scratch' and 'come up to taw'. 1904 W.H. HARBEN Georgians xxxii. 292 His wife's a bully woman; she fetched 'im to taw. 1934 D. RUNYON in Collier's 3 Mar. 41/1 Georges takes a wonderful liking to Princess O'Hara right from taw. 1935 H. DAVIS Honey in Horn ix. 113 The only way Mrs. Yarboro could tell anything was start from taw. 1956 Coast to Coast 183 Starting off from taws with a big load to carry. 1969 Sunday Truth (Brisbane) 5 Oct. 14/4 Without a share of overseas star shows, Seven has been battling from taws, but..is..getting stuck into the other networks with a 'super-specials' policy change.

~Masato


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 02:19 AM

I stand corrected on the marble reference. Thank you, Masato, that is fascinating!

Here is one more example of the actual phrase being used (my emphasis). This is from an article in 1997 which tells of a murder trial in 1906:

News Herald

She told of hearing harsh words between the Judge and his son, Will. The Judge wanted to know more about the "$600" and was heard to say: "Me and your mother ain't going to be pulled down by you this way. We didn't have anybody to build us up. We came up by our muscle in a little log cabin the size of a fowl house. This $600 has got to come." His son replied: "Don't let it bother you. It will all come to taw at the right time."



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 02:43 AM

G'day Turtle Old Man, Katlaughing, Masato Sakurai & Uncle DaveO,

I'm somewhat surprised that so few know "back to taws" and "come to taws" in the sense of the base line in marbles (and, by extension, in other contexts). I certainly grew up with that sense in Australia ... despite not being a keen marbles player. My critical school years for exposure to the term were those of the 1950s, as I started school in 1950, in the southern suburbs of Sydney.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 03:12 AM

Iona & Peter Opie, Children's Games with Things (Oxford, 1997) doesn't help at all. "Taw" is in the index, but it only says "see Marbles."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 07:27 AM

Masato, thanks very much for the OED references. I was hoping somebody could provide that. I keep forgetting to look when I'm at the library. The quotes under the "C" section are especially helpful. The reference from AMERICAN SPEECH (1868) is interesting:

He smiles at all the girls he meets,
And you smile at him on the crowded streets,
Why don't you make him 'come to taw',
I know he wants a mother in law.

I'm glad to get some sense of the age of use of this term, at least back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. And, also, to get some sense of its breadth of use, out to America and Australia. It sounds to me like it means to bring something or somebody back to or up to a beginning or starting point. But it also seems to carry the sense of something "measuring up" or in another colloquial sense, "being up to snuff".

Bob, could you give us some examples of how you've heard this phrase used in sentences. Some context in normal speech, perhaps outside the context of the marbles game. It seems to have originated with the game but to have moved beyond that in common speech. Kat, your reference brings it into the 20th century in America, along with the refs. in the OED, although I'm not sure of the geographical locations for the 20th century ones.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 06:54 PM

I think the one I quoted was in South Carolina, Turtle Old Man.

Just to get back to my original thought about it being another way to say "toe the line," this, found at Word Detective, seems to have some relation vis a vis starting lines and perhaps the navy reference leads to the cowboy use?:

Toe the line" first appeared in the early 18th century, and there are two possible "lines" to which the phrase might originally have referred. One would be the starting line of a foot race, the mark upon which each runner places his or her foot in preparation for the starting gun. The other possibility, which I find more likely, is a line drawn on a ship's deck or a parade ground which new recruits must "toe" as they assemble in formation. I find this source more persuasive because it echoes the connotations of "order" and "obedience" that "toe the line" retains today. It is to a runner's advantage, after all, to "toe" the starting line, but a recruit being ordered to "toe the line" is very quickly learning who is in charge.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: GUEST,Louise V.
Date: 15 Mar 12 - 10:21 AM

I am from the deep South, being a 7th generation Floridian. I have heard the phrase "come to taw" all my life and in our family it is used referring to something coming to and end, to fruition, coming to a head.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: Bert
Date: 15 Mar 12 - 03:09 PM

In American Square dancing Taw means a guy's partner.

One version of the Dance Sally Gooden goes like this.

Number one go bow and swing
the gent goes out to the left of the ring and
swing Sally Gooden with a right hand 'round
and now your Taw with a left hand 'round
Now the girl from Arkinsaw (right hand lady) with a right hand 'round
and now your Taw with a left hand 'round
across the hall and swing Grandmaw with a right hand 'round
and back to your Taw and everybody swing.

This could suggest that the use of the word in square dancing is derived from the meaning of 'starting point'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 15 Mar 12 - 09:51 PM

It's always fascinating when an old thread comes back to life!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Mar 12 - 01:43 PM

My unabridged dictionary says that a taw is a shooter in the game of marbles. It is also the line from which a game of marbles begins. So to come to taw means to come to the starting point of something.

There are other definitions unrelated to the above. For example, in making cloth or leather, it means to make the product hard. It's also a variant of the Hebrew letter 'tav.'

Meanwhile, I wanna know what 'link and law' (first post) is supposed to mean.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Come to taw?
From: John Minear
Date: 16 Mar 12 - 01:55 PM

Leenia, the song, "Limber Jim" was collected in North Carolina. Neither the person who sang it (see the thread on "Limber Jim"), nor the person who collected it, Fletcher Collins, knew what "link and law" meant. However. given the context, it may be a "Southern" reference to "Lincoln Law" and the freeing of the slaves.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 September 10:48 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.