P's and Q's points and questions

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 20 19:48:50 UTC 2009

Careful! Somebody's going to take that one seriously!!

m a m
-- In case of conflict, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's. (And Grimm's,
and Verner's, and Newton's I, II, and III, and...)

On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 3:00 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:

> I think this is just crying out for an etymythology.
> "Minding one's P's and Q's" actually dates back to an 18th century
> practice in which young orphans in the East End of London had to wait
> in a long line for their humble and tasteless meals. Â They would be
> cautioned by the cruel taskmaster not to let their pease porridge
> slop over the side of their bowls, and not to cut in front of anyone
> else in the line (or queue, as it is called in England). Â  Any
> failure to comply with these orders would lead to a severe whipping.
> This came to be known as learning or minding your pease and queues.
> Eventually, this was confused with the letters of the alphabet, and
> people thought that knowing how to act properly meant minding your
> P's and Q's.

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

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