P's and Q's points and questions

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 20 21:49:46 UTC 2009

Once read somewhere or other - Reader's Digest? (Your best bet is)
Coronet? - that "p's and q's" had something or other to do with, "If
p, then q," etc.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 3:48 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: P's and Q's points and questions
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list