[Ads-l] 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall - about flies?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 9 02:37:33 UTC 2022

Impressive work, Peter. Congratulations!

On Tue, Nov 8, 2022 at 9:17 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I recently posted an updated history of “99 bottles of beer on the wall.”  That song was derived from an earlier song, “99 Blue Bottles Hanging on the Wall.”  The significance of the blue bottles or how or why a bottle is “hanging on the wall” are not explained in the song, and I had not found any smoking gun answering the questions.
> I speculated that the “blue bottles” could be a blue-bottle fly (like a large house fly), or a blue glass hand grenade fire extinguisher.  I shared my post here a few days ago.
> https://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2022-November/162527.html
> Since then, however, Garson O’Toole alerted me to a single reference from 1924, recounting an incident in 1903, in which the writer believed that when they sang the song in 1903 they were singing specifically about the blue bottle hand grenades.
> My post here: https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2022/11/birds-bottles-and-flies-early-history.html
>But no!  Using a new search term (“blue bottle song”) I started looking for more
> support – and instead found support (of > sorts) for my other speculation.
> It turns out that there was an earlier song, “Three Blue Bottles,” which was
> also a backward county song, but in which “blue-bottles” sitting on a “mile-stone”
> fly away one at a time.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list