[Ads-l] Quote: Go to other people's berrin's that they may come to yours. (1895)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Sep 28 11:06:54 UTC 2015

"Confound it!" John would say, "if I don't attend other people's funerals they won't come to mine."

The Youth of the Period, James F. S. Kennedy (London, 1876) p. 232. 


Stephen Goranson

From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <...>
Sent: Monday, September 28, 2015 6:09 AM
Subject: [ADS-L] Quote: Go to other people's berrin's that they may come to yours. (1895)

A comical remark about funeral attendance has been attributed to the
baseball great Yogi Berra:

Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t go to yours.

Fred and Ralph Keyes have valuable citations for the popular author
Clarence S. Day. A few days ago Barry Popik found some excellent
antedatings for this joke in 1907 and 1911. Now I've found some
citations in 1895 and 1898, and I've created an entry on the topic:


The earliest evidence I've located appeared in a short story published
in a London journal called "The Leisure Hour" in 1895. The tale used
nonstandard spelling to represent dialect, e.g., berrin', burial; ess,
yes; cauld, cold; het, hot; motty, motto; knaw, know; and manen,
meaning. In the following passage a character named Mrs. Polsue began
by stating that she had not missed a burial in twenty years.

[Begin excerpt]
"Ess, o' course. I haven' missed a berrin' in this town for twenty
year--summer or winter, cauld or het, dry or wet--and there edn' many
can say the same. 'Do unto others as you would that they sh'd do to
you,'--that's my motty; and I turn et this way, 'Go to other people's
berrin's that they may come to yours.'"

"Eh--'twould be a wisht berrin' that!" chuckled Mrs. Tonkin.

"You d' knaw my manen, Ann," said Mrs. Polsue placidly.
[End excerpt]

Feedback welcome,

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

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