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

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 14 16:01:11 UTC 2015


I think there may be a sentence I was unable to extract after the
phrase "the other two went for a Burton." Google seems to have changed
the way the wild card asterisk works within queries performed on the
Google Books database.

When I use the asterisk the Google search engine now refuses to find
matching patterns within Google Books. If a mailing list member wants
to discuss this new Google search engine behavior please let me know
on  or off list.

Garson

On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 11:39 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Circa 1942 a journal called "Great Britain and the East" presented a
> passage of slang together with a translation. However, the Burton
> phrase was given a different meaning:
>
> Slang: One bought it; the other two went for a Burton.
>
> Translation: One was killed: the other two were severely reprimanded.
>
> A line with three asterisks was used as a spacer in the original text.
>
> Year: 1943 (GB Year is 1942; probes for 1943 show headers indicating
> some issues in the volume appeared in 1943; the body of the text
> mentioned 1942 as the date the slang was spoken)
> Periodical: Great Britain and the East
> Volume 59
> Quote Page GB 29
> (Google Books snippet view; metadata may be inaccurate; OCR errors may
> be present; should be verified on paper/microfilm)
>
> [Begin extracted text]
> An item to conclude with even more
> Shavian in style than Shaw. Here it is:
> "Three ropey types, all sprogs, pranged
> a cheeseye kite on bumps and circuits.
> One bought it; the other two went for
> a Burton. They'd taken a shagbat Wofficer,
> who was browned off, along, and the Queen
> Bee was hopping mad." This may sound
> like double Dutch or a section from a
> New York cab-driver's vocabulary, but
> it's nothing of the sort. It's the King's
> English,  1942 version, as spoken--some-
> times--by the Royal Air Force.
>
> * * *
>
> A translation for those who don't
> understand such modern English would
> read: "Three unpopular individuals, all
> brand new pilot officers, crashed a worn-
> out aircraft while making practice cir-
> cuits and landings. One was killed: the
> other two were severely reprimanded.
> The station commander disapproved and
> roundly rated them. They had taken
> along a somewhat plain W.A.A.F. officer,
> who was bored, and the W.A.A.F. com-
> mandant was very angry.
>                      LONDONER.
> [End extracted text]
>
> Garson
>
> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 11:00 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> I certainly recall seeing the ad, presumably on a newspaper page. But other
>> than the fact that it must have been thirty or forty years ago, I can
>> recall nothing more about it.  It registered because I knew the slang
>> phrase from Partridge and this apparent origin seemed to be unassailable.
>>
>> I took no further note of it because it had nothing to do with "American"
>> slang.
>>
>> Of course, senility has to begin some time.
>>
>> Could the Burton's brand have been revived after the war?
>>
>> Maybe, but I can't imagine they'd adopt for advertising an RAF phrase
>> alluding to being killed in action.
>>
>> JL
>>
>> On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 10:18 AM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
>>> Subject:      Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
>>>
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>
>>> I distrust the Burton for curtain theory -- rhyming slang usually uses the
>>> non-rhyming word as the 'code', so Monty means Montague Burton means
>>> curtain.
>>>
>>> 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...
>>>
>>> DanG
>>>
>>> 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
>>> >
>>>
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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