doing stupid

Alison Murie sagehen7470 at ATT.NET
Wed Jul 1 17:58:35 UTC 2009

On Jul 1, 2009, at 11:08 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: doing stupid
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 10:57 AM -0400 7/1/09, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>> At 7/1/2009 10:40 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>> the older
>>> "Handsome is as handsome does" (somehow that one sounds as though it
>>> belongs in the mouth of one of Jane Austen's unsympathetic snippy
>>> minor female characters),
>> Does Larry know how fortunate he is that he did not address this to
>> the "Long Eighteenth Century" email list -- where Jane Austen is the
>> second most popular subject?  (I leave unsaid the first.)
>> Joel
> Why fortunate?  She specialized in such characters, along with
> equally unsympathetic and oblivious but usually more overbearing
> minor male characters, than whom the sympathetic female and male
> characters are far superior morally, intellectually, and in every
> other way (except sometimes in the purse).
> LH
I agree about the sympathetic & unsympathetic characters, in JA, but I
do not associate
"handsome is as handsome does"  with any of her people.  Is it really
found that early?
I think  of it as later  XIX  early XX Cent. Dickens, maybe; Mary
Poppins probably said it, or at least someone in that
(It was an expression peculiarly annoying to my kids, even the two who
went to school in England,
as utterly incomprehensible; so much so that it became a sort of
family joke.)  I can remember
  being puzzled by it as a kid, until the significance of "as" dawned
on me.

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