Every schoolboy knows
Posted: 10 October 2007 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Having bid a fond farewell to Rabelais, I’ve just started on the Third Partition of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. I read the first two partitions years ago but never did get round to what is by all accounts the crown of the whole work, the partition on Love Melancholy - a pleasure denied for far too long.

Coming across this phrase early on I immediately thought of Macaulay:

Tully himself confesseth he could not understand Plato’s Timaeus, and therefore cared less for it; but every schoolboy hath that famous testament of Grunnius Corocotta Porcellus at his fingers’ ends .............

Id sibi negotii credidit solum dari,
Populo ut placerent quas fecisset fabulas,

(Burton loosely translates as “his only care and sole study, to please the people, tickle the ear, and to delight”. Tully, BTW, is Cicero, who is usually referred to by his nomen rather than cognomen in earlier times.)

Schoolboys have clearly changed since Burton’s time!

OED (which doesn’t have the Burton cite) gives us glimpses of the phrase over the years.

1654 JER. TAYLOR Real Pres. 80 Every Schole-boy knows it. 1721 SWIFT Poems (1958) I. 281 How haughtily he lifts his Nose, To tell what ev’ry School Boy knows. 1840 MACAULAY in Edin. Rev. Jan. 295 Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled Atahualpa. 1966 Listener 8 Sept. 365/3 Tallis’s motet Spem in alium nunquam habui was for years more often written about than heard. A tour-de-force in forty voice-parts: so much every schoolboy knew. 1977 Times 15 Oct. 2/8 Every schoolboy knows that the No. 3 bus from Piccadilly Circus comes to Valley Fields, Wodehouse’s familiar pseudonym for Dulwich.

Clearly The Listener is using the phrase archly (at least I hope so!)

Ah, I note that, as often, I tread in the footprints of language hat!

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Posted: 10 October 2007 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Tully, BTW, is Cicero, who is usually referred to by his nomen rather than cognomen in earlier times.

That’s interesting.  The name “Tully” rings a faint bell, but, despite taking Latin “O” Level some thirty years ago, I cannot remember Cicero being called that at school.  I wonder when that usage ceased.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Schoolboys have clearly changed since Burton’s time!

Not sure whether you’re being ironic or not, but as far as I know, the phrase is never used seriously—as I say in the post you so kindly link to: “The essential point about what ‘every schoolboy knows,’ of course, is that it must be something known only to graybeard academics.”

Edit: By “never,” of course, I mean “when used in the way Burton uses it.” It may be the Times is serious when it says “Every schoolboy knows that the No. 3 bus from Piccadilly Circus comes to Valley Fields...”

[ Edited: 10 October 2007 10:52 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 10 October 2007 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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languagehat - 10 October 2007 10:49 AM

Schoolboys have clearly changed since Burton’s time!

Not sure whether you’re being ironic or not, but as far as I know, the phrase is never used seriously—as I say in the post you so kindly link to: “The essential point about what ‘every schoolboy knows,’ of course, is that it must be something known only to graybeard academics.”

Edit: By “never,” of course, I mean “when used in the way Burton uses it.” It may be the Times is serious when it says “Every schoolboy knows that the No. 3 bus from Piccadilly Circus comes to Valley Fields...”

Yes, but the reference was to Burton’s use (who was certainly in earnest) and the common knowledge of present schoolboys. The fact that the phrase isn’t used seriously now was irrelevant to the remark. (Macaulay too probably meant just what he wrote).

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Posted: 10 October 2007 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Burton’s use (who was certainly in earnest)

Good heavens, I couldn’t disagree more!  That’s the clearest example of an ironic use I’ve seen in a while.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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But Elizabethan and Tudor education was renowned for drilling schoolboys with Latin tags, including many from contemporary Latinists. Your certainty that Burton was not serious here rather bemuses me. Of course, it’s possible that it’s my conviction that’s misplaced here, Burton often writes sardonically, but I don’t get that here. I’ll have to dig further into the standard authors used by Elizabethan schoolboys, if just for my own peace of mind.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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To schoolboys of more recent generations, especially those familiar with the character Moslesworth, the key phrase is ‘as any fule kno...’.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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There is a well-known writer and broadcaster named (evidently by a classically-inclined father) Mark Tully.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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24450239 - 11 October 2007 01:59 AM

There is a well-known writer and broadcaster named (evidently by a classically-inclined father) Mark Tully.

But that’s his surname, nothing whatever to do with Cicero or a ‘classically-inclined father’. The surname Tully is Irish:

This name is fairly common in Counties Galway and Cavan but rare elsewhere (except in the City of Dublin where, of course, names from all parts of Ireland are to be found). It was formerly MacTully, and the form MacAtilla is used to-day in some places which suggests that the name in Irish was MacTuile or Mac a’tuile, meaning son of the flood; and it is a fact that the surnames Tully and Flood were at one time interchangeable and that what has been termed a mistranslation may indeed be a translation.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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But that’s his surname, nothing whatever to do with Cicero or a ‘classically-inclined father’.

I think you’ve missed the point, aldi.  Cicero’s full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero.  Thus a classically-inclined man surnamed Tully might call his son Mark after the Roman writer, or it might be a coincidence.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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bayard - 11 October 2007 09:09 AM

But that’s his surname, nothing whatever to do with Cicero or a ‘classically-inclined father’.

I think you’ve missed the point, aldi.  Cicero’s full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero.  Thus a classically-inclined man surnamed Tully might call his son Mark after the Roman writer, or it might be a coincidence.

Beats head slowly against brick wall. Apologies to the poster, you’re quite right, I completely missed the Mark.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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If only he’d gone out for football, he could have been a kicker, oh!

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Posted: 11 October 2007 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I’d never heard of little Grunting Porky before your posting, aldi, and enjoyed looking him up --- many thanks (my own Latin schooling never got much past “amo amas amat”, and none of it was fun).

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