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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Aug 21 14:31:44 UTC 2015


Yes, this particular rhyming slang derivation strikes me as a post-hoc etymythological construct, unless "gone for certain" can be independently attested as a standard locution in the relevant context.

LH

> On Aug 21, 2015, at 5:45 AM, Geoffrey Steven Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU> wrote:
> 
> I actually own a copy of Service Slang (my father was an officer in the RAF during WWII). I've scanned the relevant page, but the upshot is that although they cite the rhyming slang etymology, they express doubt. But there is an accompanying cartoon suggesting the beer connection (guy sitting at a heavenly bar with prominently displayed beer taps)
> Here's a scan of the page (assuming this link works):
> 
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.dropbox.com_s_g02xx6a1178sj7d_Gone-2520for-2520a-2520Burton.pdf-3Fdl-3D0&d=AwIFAw&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=SIzWzEUhoU9gUmq1yOtajDT0oB5R3LobSW9763plOEo&s=-26Rj9EVcOvLogl5PRubSIXkv4GDomYkAtVniSTiY3I&e= 
> 
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Professor, Linguistics Program
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> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2015 9:05 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
> 
> ---------------------- 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
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Michael Quinion examined the possibility that Burton referred to a
> brand and wrote that the "most probable candidate, the Burton Brewery
> Co Ltd, closed in 1935 and was hardly well-known even before then."
> 
> Another hypothesis that has been raised on this thread is: Burton beer
> referred to a type of beer and not a specific brand. Indeed, there are
> many matches for "Burton beer" and "Burton Ale" in various databases
> in the past.
> 
> Bass brewery was founded in 1777 and is based at Burton-upon-Trent.
> There is some evidence of a "Bass's Burton ale". An advertisement in
> 1915 by an importer of Bass printed in a Connecticut newspaper stated
> "Bass Strong Burton Ale / On Draught Everywhere". Perhaps it was "on
> draught everywhere" in the U.K. Of course, 1915 is early. I do not
> know if it was "on draught everywhere" in the U.K. in the 1930s and
> 1940s. Other brewers perhaps made Burton ales, i.e., a drink that a
> pubgoer would call a "Burton".
> 
> The databases that I can search in the 1930s and 1940s primarily
> contain U.S. newspapers, so it is difficult for me to access the
> availability of Burton-type beers in the U.K.
> 
> Year: 1908
> Title: Culture by Conversation
> Author: Robert Waters
> Quote Page 218
> 
> [Begin excerpt]
> Everybody has heard of Bass's Burton ale; but not everybody knows that
> the brewer of the same was made a lord, and is now known as Lord
> Burton.
> [End excerpt]
> 
> 
> Date: November 8, 1915
> Newspaper: The Day
> Newspaper Location: New London, Connecticut
> Description: Advertisement from Bass & Co., Importers, 90 Warren St., New York
> Quote Page 4, Column 7
> 
> [Begin advertisement excerpt]
> Bass Strong Burton Ale
> On Draught Everywhere
> [End excerpt]
> 
> Garson
> 
> 
> On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 4:07 PM, 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
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> Garson, while "Cockney" rhyming slang usu. takes the binary form you
>> mention, there are exceptions.
>> 
>> E.g., "septic" for "American" (short for "septic tank" = Yank).
>> 
>> That isn't the "gone for certain/ a Burton" pattern, but it does show that
>> others exist.
>> 
>> I still feel, however, that "gone for certain" is a strained interpretation
>> that smacks loudly of folk etymology.
>> 
>> That gut reaction gains support from searches of Google Books for ["gone
>> for certain" + "RAF/ Blitz/ air force"]  Those search (remarkably) produces
>> only *two* hits out of a bajillion possible instances - neither of which
>> has anything to do with an aircrew or an airman being shot down.
>> 
>> Long ago I consulted Hunt & Pringle's _Service Slang_ for items related to
>> American military slang. The book is one more cartoon-illustrated, quickie
>> slang glossary of some historical,  but  limited etymological, value.
>> 
>> JL
>> 
>> On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 11:54 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
>>> 
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> 
>>> Welcome Peter and thanks for sharing an intriguing citation. Extracted
>>> text suggests that the discussion concerning "Gone for a Burton" was
>>> contained within an article that reviewed one or more books about
>>> slang.
>>> 
>>> A snippet from the same page of "John O'London's Weekly" did mention a
>>> book about slang called "Service Slang" compiled by J. L. Hunt and A.
>>> G. Pringle publisher by Faber. It is possible that the phrase "Gone
>>> for a Burton" was contained within the book "Service Slang". The
>>> linkage to Cockney slang might also appear in "Service Slang".
>>> Alternatively, the article in "John O'London's" Weekly" might
>>> reference more than one book about slang. I have only extracted small
>>> sections of the full article. It is also possible that the article
>>> author made the linkage to Cockney slang without support from any
>>> book.
>>> 
>>> In the Cockney slang examples I have seen the rhyme is employed during
>>> an intermediate stage. The final slang word does not rhyme with the
>>> initial target word. For example, "stairs" is transformed into
>>> "apples". The intermediate rhyming phrase is "apples and pears". The
>>> word "pears" rhymes with "stairs", but it is not used.
>>> 
>>> Transforming "Gone for certain" to "Gone for a Burton" does not seem
>>> to match the Cockney slang derivation pattern although it might be
>>> some kind of intermediate stage. (This same point was made by Dan
>>> Goncharoff when discussing the linkage between "curtain" and
>>> "Burton".)
>>> 
>>> Year: 1943
>>> Periodical: John O'London's Weekly
>>> Issues 1210-1223
>>> Quote Page 170
>>> Database: Google Books snippet; data may be inaccurate and should be
>>> verified on paper; probing with the year 1943 reveals snippets
>>> indicating that the volume does contain issues from 1943.
>>> 
>>> [Begin extracted text]
>>> There are traces, too, of an older argot. The Cockney has taken his
>>> rhyming slang with him into the Services. "Cape of Good Hope" is still
>>> -- as it was in the last war -- "soap"; and "Gone for a Burton" is
>>> "Gone for certain." The compilers regret that, owing to space, they
>>> have had to omit many examples of rhyming slang ; though one may enter
>>> a slight protest that they have noted so famous a derivation as "tin
>>> titfor" (steel helmet) as "seagoing term" only, and ...
>>> [End extracted text]
>>> 
>>> [Begin extracted text from an earlier position on the same page]
>>> ... imagine any circles which have not been made acquainted with at
>>> least some phrases of Service slang. My own reaction to reading
>>> through Service Slang (collected by J. L. Hunt and A. G. Pringle and
>>> published by Faber at the modest price ...
>>> [End extracted text]
>>> 
>>> Special thanks to Stephen for accessing the journal "Great Britain and
>>> the East" and sharing what he found on the page containing the phrase
>>> "went for a Burton".
>>> 
>>> Garson
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 7:19 PM, 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
>>>> 
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> 
>>>> Could be - but that would seem to indicate that the ale really is behind
>>> it.
>>>> 
>>>> FWIW, "gone for certain" strikes me as somewhat unidiomatic, at least in
>>>> the context of air warfare.
>>>> 
>>>> JL
>>>> 
>>>> On Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 4:39 PM, Peter Morris <
>>>> peter_morris_1 at blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>>> -----------------------
>>>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>>> Poster:       Peter Morris <peter_morris_1 at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK>
>>>>> Subject:      go for a "Burton"--a 1944 etymology guess
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> 
>>>>> This is my first posting. I hope it attaches to the thread correctly.
>>>>> Apologies if not.
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> Here's  a different early (1943) suggested etymology:=20
>>>>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__tinyurl.com_pt3emtn&d=AwIFAw&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=SIzWzEUhoU9gUmq1yOtajDT0oB5R3LobSW9763plOEo&s=7Vu29Qr4JxIaLNCnCHY5ljgGFAFgndlY7xQrESDS04g&e= 
>>>>> 
>>>>> "The Cockney has taken his rhyming slang with him into the
>>>>> Services. "Cape of Good Hope" is still -as it was in the last=20
>>>>> war- "soap"; and "gone for a Burton" is "Gone for certain."
>>>>> 
>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwIFAw&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=SIzWzEUhoU9gUmq1yOtajDT0oB5R3LobSW9763plOEo&s=fiMZfb9stnUq7GHb4mUccfxGODnLw6ldOh9QExEkHSM&e= 
>>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> --
>>>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
>>> truth."
>>>> 
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>>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
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