'olly olly oxen free' in Congress
Joel S. Berson
Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jun 14 15:27:35 UTC 2013
My comment at the end.
At 6/13/2013 11:30 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>On Jun 13, 2013, at 8:09 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
> > On Jun 13, 2013, at 9:50 PM, Herb Stahlke wrote:
> >> A Huff Post story at
> >> quotes a congressman as follows:
> >> "There was a phrase in that game called 'olly olly oxen free' -- meant you
> >> could come out, you were safe, you no longer had to hide," Cotton argued.
> >> I've never heard "hide 'n' seek" called that, but the phrase is now in the
> >> Congressional Record.
> > Maybe he was blending two observations--
> > (1) There was a phrase in a game, which went "olly olly oxen
> free" and that meant you could come out [etc.]
> > (2) The game in question was hide 'n' seek.
> > Close enough for government work.
>It's a parsing issue. Here's the quote from the article:
>Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), compared ending indefinite detention to
>giving someone a free pass in a game of hide-and-seek.
>"There was a phrase in that game called 'olly olly oxen free' --
>meant you could come out, you were safe, you no longer had to hide,"
>-> a phrase called olly olly oxen free
>This is a little awkward, but is probably common enough in speech.
"Common"? No, sophisticated --
'The name of the song is called "HADDOCKS' EYES." '
'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel
'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed.
'That's what the name is CALLED. The name really IS "THE AGED AGED MAN." '
'Then I ought to have said "That's what the SONG is called"?' Alice
'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The SONG is called
"WAYS AND MEANS": but that's only what it's CALLED, you know!'
'Well, what IS the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time
'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really IS
"A-SITTING ON A GATE": and the tune's my own invention.'
At least we know that Representative Cotton didn't write it himself.
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