[Ads-l] go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 14 14:18:19 UTC 2015

I distrust the Burton for curtain theory -- rhyming slang usually uses the
non-rhyming word as the 'code', so Monty means Montague Burton means

British music halls might allow a phrase like "He's gone for a Burton" to
persist in the culture long after the product has passed on. Nowadays TV
does that job. How old do you have to be to actually remember "the thrill
of victory, the agony of defeat", anyway? WWoS ended 17 years ago...


On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 9:52 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Thank you Bonnie!
> Partridge/Beale 1984 does mention rhyming slang, but a different proposal.
> Michael Quinion at World Wide Words: ".... It is said that there was a
> seri=
> es of advertisements for beer in the inter-war years, each of which
> feature=
> d a group of people with one obviously missing (a football team with a gap
> =
> in the line-up, a dinner party with one chair empty). The tagline
> suggested=
>  the missing person had just popped out for a beer =97 had gone for a
> Burto=
> n. The slogan was then taken up by RAF pilots for one of their number
> missi=
> ng in action as a typical example of wartime sick humour.
> There=92s little we can do to choose one of these over the others. If the
> a=
> dverts really did run before the War they would be the obvious source,
> thou=
> gh none have been traced and the most probable candidate, the Burton
> Brewer=
> y Co Ltd, closed in 1935 and was hardly well-known even before then....."
> Curtains sound plausible to me. Of course Burton could possibly have a
> seco=
> ndary meaning (e.g., suit for burial, say).
> Field Marshall Montgomery has been associated with "full Monty," but that
> m=
> ay be an effect somewhat parallel to the well-known quote magnets.
> Research on "Monty Burton" would be incomplete without noting the
> anti-Semi=
> tic song from 1939 with the incipit "Onward Christian Soldiers"  or
> "Onward=
>  conscript army" and the line "clothed/clad by Monty Burton" (various
> versi=
> ons online; Burton made uniforms, which also could contribute to possible
> b=
> lending of Montys).
> Stephen Goranson
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society ... on behalf of Bonnie Taylor-Blake
> <b.tayl=
> orblake at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 9:16 AM
> To: ...
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 6:02 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>
> wrote=
> :
> > (As for potential secondary meaning or attestation of Burton, a
> correspon=
> de=3D
> > nt may wish to mention an oral tradition, noted offlist.)
> Ah, I don't know whether I'm the offlist-correspondent you're thinking
> of, Stephen, but I'll note here that an 80-something English friend
> (who lives over there) once told me of his familiarity with a bit of
> rhyming slang holding that "Montague(s)" signifies "curtain(s)."
> (Because "[Montague] Burton" rhymes with "curtain.")  So, "pull the
> Montagues" means "pull the curtains."  "Montague(s)" signifying
> "curtain(s)" may be long lost and little used, but there you go.
> (Yes, and "Richard Burton" also means "curtain," but at the time I was
> particularly interested in my friend's reference to "Montagues.")
> -- Bonnie
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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