Monkey see(s), monkey do(es), 1901, 1893

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 19 21:29:28 UTC 2013

On Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> As for "see/do" vs. "sees/does", is it an outmoded subjunctive - "if
> monkey see, monkey [will] do"?

I had assumed "monkey see, monkey do" was supposed to be an imitation
of Chinese Pidgin English, like "long time no see" or "look-see." But
none of the early cites given so far have borne that out.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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