"A Quaker hates a parrot"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Oct 13 02:03:16 UTC 2010

At 9:49 PM -0400 10/12/10, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>A correspondent asks:
>>In Way of the World, Witwould says that Lady Wishfort "hates
>>Mirabell  worse than a Quaker hates a parrot or than a fishmonger
>>hates a hard frost."
>>I can see where a fishmonger would hate a hard frost, but why would
>>a Quaker hate a parrot?
>>The only reasons that occur to me are that Quakers value silence and
>>parrots are said to be noisy, or that a parrot who spoke might
>>repeat  words no Quaker should know.
>Any thoughts?
Apparently the latter suggestion is on the right track, at least
according to E. K. Maxfield (1930):

"One naturally recalls that parrots are notorious swearers, and so
would of course shock a sect with 'conscientious objections' :-) to

(Smiley added.)

It may or may not be relevant that there are "Quaker parrots", which
are attractive looking and quite popular.  Cf.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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