Tennyson's "Not!"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 8 00:27:22 UTC 2009

At 8:01 PM -0400 9/7/09, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>"The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854)  says,
>"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
>Was there a man dismayed?
>Not though the soldier knew
>    Someone had blundered.
>Except for the exclamatory stress, does T's grammar differ from the current
>interjectional use of "Not!"?
>Is this the long-sought missing link between culture and unculture?  The
>veritable Holy Grail and smoking gun of "Not!" studies?
Waaallll...He *could* have been a bit more helpful by punctuating it

"Not!  Though the soldier knew..."

In any case Tennyson's rhyme scheme--it continues, of course,

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

--suggests he pronounced the number ['h^nd at rd] as in "blundered" or,
later, "thunder'd" and "wonder'd".


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

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