yonder - English or Irish?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jun 20 13:05:34 UTC 2008

James Harbeck's inclusion of spinning wheels in his placement of the
days is incorrect.  Spinning wheels were certainly used later than
the 17th century.  And they were an important element in British land
war of the other continent, namely the Revolutionary war: the
colonials, in their efforts to boycott imports from Britain,
endeavored to spin more.

Which leads me to wonder (rhymes with yonder):  Josh Macfelder seems
to have assumed the song relates to a war on the continent.  Why not
overseas?  Or why not a civil war in England?

However, I have the same view as James about the sword:  an ordinary
soldier in the 18th century would likely not be armed with one
(unless he were Persian, Indian, perhaps Turkish, etc.).


At 6/20/2008 01:15 AM, Josh Macfelder wrote:
>On Thu, 19 Jun 2008 17:32:18 -0700 "JAMES A. LANDAU Netscape. Just the Net
>You Need." <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM> wrote:
>"The Peter, Paul, and Mary version of the song (entitled "Gone the Rainbow")
>included these words:
>I sold my flax, I sold my wheel
>To buy my love a sword of steel
>So it in battle he might wield
>Johnny's gone for a soldier
>These words, if accurate (PP&M frequently made changes to the songs they
>sung and made no claim to historical accuracy), would place the song in the
>days of spinning wheels and soldiers who used swords. That would be earlier
>than the Wars of the French Revolution, which were mostly fought with
>gunpowder. Swords went out of fashion on land battlefields in the late 17th
>Century with the invention of the bayonet (which in its turn was made
>obsolete by the pop-top on beer cans.)"
>Thanks for pointing that out, I really overlooked the reference to the
>sword. As a matter of fact, the "Siul a Riun" song reads almost the same:
>"I'll sell my rock, I'll sell my reel,
>I'll sell my only spinning wheel
>To buy my love a sword of steel"
>So you might be right in placing the song in the 17th c. As for the spinning
>wheels, though, I really don't know. Right now I'm in Ukraine, where in the
>countryside quite a few babushkas (elderly ladies) still use those, so I
>guess they're not out of use yet. Of couse, this doesn't have to be true for
>Ireland :P
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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