Cel (c_elisa) wrote,

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Idle braynes are the Diuell's playgrounde

I'm overhauling the Wikipedia article on minced oaths, for no better reason than that it needed it and I happened to have Geoffrey Hughes's Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths, and Profanity in English on my shelf. (I also rewrote a shockingly bad article on Fakelore, so I've got a whole "things that are ersatz" theme emerging here.) Doing some more research on the subject I came across this brilliant rant from 1550 about how the English just can't seem to "talke wythouten othes plentye":
And some sweare [by] his fleshe, his bloude, and hys fote; And some by hys guttes, hys lyfe, and herte rote; Some sweare by Gods nayles, hys herte, and his bodye; Some other woulde seme all sweryng to refrayne, And they invent idle othes, such is theyr idle brayne: By cocke and by pye, and by the goose wyng; By the crosse of the mouse fote, and by saynte Chyckyn. And some sweare by the Diuell, such is theyr blyndeness; Not knowyng that they call these thynges to wytnes, Of their consciences, in that they afirme or denye, So boeth sortes commit Most abominable blasphemie. (Furnivall 133,294) [ETA: switched two lines that I'm convinced the source transposed; it makes much more sense now.]
Ah yes, Saint Chicken. That's the one who miraculously ran around for forty days and nights after his head was cut off and taken to Canterbury, right?

Also, I recently found out that Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog will sell you a shirt that says:
Okaye, so sometymes it raineth in March: make notte a chancerye case of the whole mattere.
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