No love lost
Posted: 26 January 2008 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have a vague memory of the claim that the phrase “no love lost between them” originally referred to a pair who so loved each other that they made sure that none of that love got lost on the way to each other, and that the source was some poem which I never found anywhere.  Recently I saw the phrase used as an example of ambiguity and that in its earliest citations it was used roughly equally to mean that and its modern interpretation wherein there is no love to get lost.  Can anyone help me out of my bafflement?

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Posted: 26 January 2008 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Phrase Finder -

NO LOVE LOST - “They don’t like each other. For a while, several centuries ago, this phrase carried two opposing meanings, the one now current, and the thought of mutual affection. In the second, and defunct, sense of the phrase, the image was as of love shared in a common vessel: when affection was mutual, none of the love in the vessel was lost. An example is in ‘Faire Em,’ a fraudulent Shakespeare published in 1592: ‘Nor was there any loue between vs lost. But I held in the same in high regard.’ In the other sense, while love is possessed by two people, neither is losing any of it over the other. A translation in 1620 of ‘Don Quixote offers this passage: ‘There’s no love lost,’ quote Sancho, ‘for she speaks ill of me too when she list.’” From “Dictionary of Cliches” by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).

I just offer this as a suggestion.  I have no way of vouching for this “Dictionary of Cliches”.

Edit:  The poem itself is downloadable at Gutenberg
Em declares her love for Manville:

Which I did shrine an idol in mine heart.
And never could I see a man, methought,
That equaled Manville in my partial eye.
Nor was there any love between us lost,
But that I held the same in high regard,

[ Edited: 26 January 2008 06:17 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 26 January 2008 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That Dictionary of Cliches appears to be right. The OED agrees, although the OED’s citations are a bit later.

And Faire Em isn’t a poem, it’s a play. It was falsely ascribed to Shakespeare, which is what is meant by “fraudulent.” The 1592 date should be c.1590 to be completely accurate--although Rogers may be referring to the publication date of a specific quarto, hence the more precise date.

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Posted: 26 January 2008 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Oecolampadius - 26 January 2008 06:05 AM

Phrase Finder -
A translation in 1620 of ‘Don Quixote offers this passage: ‘There’s no love lost,’ quote Sancho, ‘for she speaks ill of me too when she list.’” From “Dictionary of Cliches” by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).

Can anyone provide the original Spanish for the Sancho Panza quote?

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Posted: 26 January 2008 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Can anyone provide the original Spanish for the Sancho Panza quote?

Waiting for some Spanish readers here, but Wikiquote has it at Part II, Book III, ch. 23 Bartlett has it at Part II, chap xxxiii.

But I can’t find it. Perhaps someone with more fluency can.

FWIW, Part II, Segunda Parte was published in 1615.

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Posted: 26 January 2008 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The Spanish is in Part II Chapter 22:

—No nos debemos nada —respondió Sancho—, que también ella dice mal de mí cuando se le antoja, especialmente cuando está celosa, que entonces súfrala el mesmo Satanás.

“No nos debemos nada” (the corresponding part) means ‘we don’t owe each other anything, we’re even,’ so it’s not much help with the English.

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Posted: 26 January 2008 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That would be why I couldn’t find it.  It’s an English idiom, albeit one from a 1620 translation (if that bears to be true), so worth something, I suppose.

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Posted: 27 January 2008 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks, lh.  What it does is lend no support to the notion that the modern usage was borrowed from a Spanish phrase equal in absolute value but differing in sign.

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