(will/won't you) come (up/down) to Limerick (town)?

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Jan 15 18:40:51 UTC 2009

Of course more documentation would be welcome. For example, does anyone have
access to the The Granta, the old one, referred to in:

  Bristol Times And Mirror  Tuesday, November 09, 1897 Bristol,
Gloucestershire... Pg. 7, col. 8:
   Cambridge has a weakness for Limericks.  The following, emanating from
"The Granta," is going the round of the College rooms with attendant
      There once was a Marquis of Magdalene,...[newspaperarchive; B.
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The Aubrey Beardsley letters of 1896 refer to and give examples of Limericks,
singing of them unmentioned. Similarly Judy of 1896: Limerick stanzas, read,
not sung. Ditto the second-hand account of The Granta (of 1896 or 1897?), no
singing mentioned.

If one considers that the attachment of the name Limerick to the 5-line
stanzas has not been previously accounted for plausibly and that 19th-century US
English has "come to Limerick" with the meaning "surrender" and such, and that
the 1898-attested British "Will you come up to Limerick?" apparently has a
similar meaning, basically "do you give up?" one can imagine either that these
two arose entirely independently or, with Occam, in relation.

Stephen Goranson

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

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