Rule of Three

Orin Hargraves orinkh at CARR.ORG
Mon Feb 9 15:40:20 UTC 2004

This thread ties up interestingly with the one a few weeks ago that started
out being about “third time lucky” (etc.), though the interesting parts are
more sociolinguistic than dialectal. In that light, the habit of saying
something three times (for effectiveness, luck, or whatever) far predate the
modern era — take, for example, the Muslim “quickie” divorce, in which the
husband says 3 times “I divorce you,” or the traditional ordination of
Buddhist monks, in which a lengthy formula must be chanted three times in
succession and without interruption for the ordination to be valid. These
don’t really qualify as “rules of three” in the sense that Mr. Zwicky and
others are seeking, but I venture that they constitute a related precursor to
the convention.

Orin Hargraves

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