2 of 2
2
seven half-dozen
Posted: 05 April 2013 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  1
Joined  2013-04-05

Interestingly, in the same story, at least as it appears in the Wodehouse Bestiary (New York, 1985), there is also a glaring editorial error in one of the last paragraphs. On page 163, the butler previously identified as Benson is mysteriously referred to as Purvis.  That kind of an editor editorial oversight certainly argues in favor of “seven half-dozen” being a typo.

[ Edited: 05 April 2013 11:54 AM by Bandersnatch ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 April 2013 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2015
Joined  2007-02-19

on the other hand, there are indications of “a half-dozen” being used at one time as a collective unit, in the same way as “a brace” or “a score”, particularly with reference to bottles of wine: ---- “put a half-dozen of champagne over the side in a net to cool, Killick”.  The kind of people who could afford to consume six bottles of wine at a time were the people Wodehouse usually wrote about, and with whom, presumably, he identified.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 April 2013 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3498
Joined  2007-01-29

Talking about “a half-dozen” when referring to bottles of wine, a use specialized to that topic, is irrelevant to the putative “seven half-dozen” referring to people.  Unless you think it also makes sense to talk about a case of people, or a Nebuchadnezzar of people.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 April 2013 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  351
Joined  2012-01-10

I wonder, even as to wine, would it be standard (or even non-bizarre) to pluralize “half-dozen”?  If a grand party was being thrown and 42 bottles of champaign were required, would poor Killick be asked to fetch “seven half-dozens” of it?

I agree that conventions for referring to wine would be very unlikely to cross over to men, but I would be more than faintly surprised to learn that there was a precedent for “X half-dozen” [of NP] being standard usage in any context.

[Ah, there’s nothing quite like seeing an old thread revived in which one made multiple, cringe-inducing, contributions.  Of course, I’ve got quite a stockpile of such threads stashed here.]

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 April 2013 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2836
Joined  2007-01-31

Welcome, Bandersnatch!  Are you of the Carrollian or Nivenian variety?

Interestingly, in the same story, at least as it appears in the Wodehouse Bestiary (New York, 1985), there is also a glaring editorial error in one of the last paragraphs. On page 163, the butler previously identified as Benson is mysteriously referred to as Purvis.  That kind of an editor editorial oversight certainly argues in favor of “seven half-dozen” being a typo.

I don’t think we are talking about the same story.  The one I referred to is called (at least in Blandings Castle) “Monkey Business”, and revolves around the unwillingness of Montrose Mulliner to be married in a cage with a gorilla, as a publicity stunt to advance the movie career of his fiancee.  There is no butler named Benson (no butler at all, in fact; unusual for a Wodehouse story, but there it is).

If Wodehouse uses the phrase “seven half-dozen” in another story, I would be interested to know which one.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 April 2013 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  825
Joined  2007-03-01

I wonder, even as to wine, would it be standard (or even non-bizarre) to pluralize “half-dozen”?  If a grand party was being thrown and 42 bottles of champaign were required, would poor Killick be asked to fetch “seven half-dozens” of it?

I won’t answer for the Nelsonian Navy, but if wine is actually packed in boxes of half a dozen, which these days it increasingly often is (time was when it came in cases of a dozen) I for one might well say “Someone will have to go down to Majestic and get maybe three half-dozen of cava and three of Rioja’, much as I might say ‘three six-packs of Fullers’ Best’.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 April 2013 03:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1369
Joined  2007-01-29

The temptation when answering a specific question is to ignore variations.  SL is right (as often) to link to cases of wine.  “Seven half-dozen” may well be a typo for “several half-dozen”, though that will only be ascertained by examining the original manuscript, which we sadly don’t seem to be able to find.  But to jump to conclusions and say it’s definitely a mistake without examining every other alternative is unacademic.  “Seven”, “eight” or any other number of half-dozens are very occasionally found such as this link, referring to four half-dozen gift boxes in one package.

I’m not putting this forward as a definitive answer, but as a suggestion for further consideration.  What I am saying is that so far the discussion seems to be jumping to an unsupported conclusion before establishing facts.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 April 2013 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3100
Joined  2007-02-26

See, to my mind, someone saying “four half dozen” rather than “two dozen” is just trying to cause trouble. At least “seven half-dozen” is quicker to say than “Three and a half dozen”, though happily “forty-two” is quicker still. Perhaps some find it impious to say the answer to the ultimate question directly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 April 2013 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2015
Joined  2007-02-19

Unless you think it also makes sense to talk about a case of people, or a Nebuchadnezzar of people.

I was only stating a fact, lh, not trying to make a case (incidentally, two half-dozens make a case ;-). Speaking of cases, I think people do occasionally come in them: Perry Mason, for instance, had cases containing variously Long-legged Models, Horrified Heirs, a Lazy Lover, a Vagabond Virgin, and many, many others. But those, I freely admit, may not have been packing-cases,—though the Foot-loose Doll may indeed have required one.

As for putting people in bottles - many of us would enjoy getting round a Blue Nun that came out of a Nebuchadnezzar. I’m sure you would, too

;-)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 April 2013 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  147
Joined  2007-02-13

A case of near-diegogarcity.

Re-reading Saki’s “Chronicles of Clovis”, and in the short story “Esmé” I came across this:
“At that moment the hunted beast turned and faced its pursuers, and the hounds (there were only about six couple of them) stood round in a half-circle and looked foolish.”

I believe that Wodehouse read Saki, so perhaps there was a deliberately affected comic phrasing in use to parody the “upper classes”, i.e. odd ways to refer to numbers in a group?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 April 2013 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  825
Joined  2007-03-01

In English hunting tradition, hounds are counted in couples - hunting folk would described a pack of 33 hounds as ‘sixteen and a half couple of hounds’. This is because when not let loose to run as a pack hounds are traditionally leashed together in pairs: in fact the original sense of couple is ‘a leash holding two hounds together’, from Old French cople, cuple, from Latin cōpula ‘band, tie, connection’

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 April 2013 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  82
Joined  2007-04-19
ElizaD -

“Seven", “eight” or any other number of half-dozens are very occasionally found such as this link, referring to four half-dozen gift boxes in one package.

OP Tipping -

See, to my mind, someone saying “four half dozen” rather than “two dozen” is just trying to cause trouble.

There’s a reason for the wording this time, though: the thing shown at the link is one package containing four gift boxes, each of which contains a half-dozen items, so four half-dozen gift boxes in this case refers to four gift boxes rather than twenty-four.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 May 2013 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1178
Joined  2007-02-14

There seem to be at least forty-leven half-couple of views on this subject.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 May 2013 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  355
Joined  2007-02-13

Seven half-dozens is 42 in my book.  Clearly Wodehouse knew the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 2
2
 
‹‹ HD: 2005 Words      Mushroom ››