bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 1 14:16:27 EST 2017
I don't think "emphatic" in that verse is a case of nouning -- it's just a
"flat adverb" ("most emphatic" = "most emphatically").
On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 1:42 PM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>
> I was curious about the origin of the "little girl/curl" poem, so I tried
> a Google Books search, specifying Nineteenth Century.
> The earliest hit was The Ohio Farmer for Saturday, Nov. 4, 1871.
> A three-stanza version was printed without attribution:
> There was a little girl
> Who had a little curl
> Right in the middle of her forehead
> When she was good
> She was very very good
> But when she bad she was horrid
> She went up stairs
> And her parents, unawares
> Was a looking out of the window
> She stood on her head
> In her little trundle-beg
> And nobody nigh to hinder
> Her mother heard the noise
> And she thought it was the boys
> A playing in the empty attic
> But she ran up-stairs
> And caught her unawares
> And spanked her most emphatic
> Recently ADS-L had a thread about "nouning adjectives". "emphatic" is an
> 1871 example.
> Another hit had a different second stanza:
> St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine For Young Folks
> vol VIII May to October 1881
> There was a little boy
> And he had a fur cap
> Which came to the middle of his forehead
> And when he was cold
> He was very, very cold
> But when he was warm he was torrid.
> The Current, Volume IX, Number [illegible] for Saturday, December 3, 1887,
> page 389
> has a detailed attribution to Longfellow:
> a lady told him she disliked the silly little poems written to children,
> such as
> <snip> But when she was bad, she was horrid.
> Mr. Longfellow laughed, and turning to his daughter who had just entered
> the room, said: "Do you remember who wrote that, Annie?" "Oh, yes!" she
> answered, "you said that to baby one morning, when she refused to have her
> hair brushed."
> A later copy of St. Nicholas, volume X, September 1883, page 876, a
> letters to the editor section, also has a detailed attribution:
> In behalf of my little ones, Jessie and Harold, aged 8 and 4, who take
> great delight in your monthly visits, I answer your query as to the author
> of the jingle
> "There was a little girl,
> And she had a little curl" etc.
> by telling you that I have a letter from Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,
> Mr. Longfellow's publishers, saying that Mr. Longfellow did compose the one
> stanza beginning as above, but never published it. The subsequent
> additions, or pardoeis, however ("There was a little boy", etc.) were made
> by other persons. Yours truly,
> A. H. Nelson
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
More information about the Ads-l