Not for all the tea in China
Posted: 31 January 2008 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]
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From OED:

Tea, n, 1

c. Phrases. given away with a pound of tea: see GIVE v. 54a; not for all the tea in China (colloq., orig. Austral.): not at any price.

1937 PARTRIDGE Dict. Slang 148/1 China!, not for all the tea in, certainly not!; on no account: Australian coll.: from the 1890’s. 1943 K. TENNANT Ride on Stranger ii. 19 I’m not going to stand in my girl’s light for all the tea in China. 1958 J. CANNAN And be Villain vi. 137 She wouldn’t get into a sidecar or on a pillion for all the tea in China. 1978 Radio Times 11-24 Mar. 25/5, I wouldn’t change Newcastle for all the tea in China… It’s a lovely place to live in.

I’m a little dubious about the Australian origin, especially as the phrase ‘would have pleased her better than all the tea in China’ occurs in Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy, first published 1817. (Google book search). Yes, the phrase is ’not for all the tea in China’, but I’d put good money on that form turning up in print in England long before it appears as an 1890s Australian colloquialism.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s Irish slang.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m surprised the OED missed the Scott usage.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I had always assumed that “all the tea in China” must date from before the 1840s, simply because it was not until 1839 that tea was cultivated outside China in significant enough quantities for non-Chinese tea (from Assam) to be available for sale in Britain. Before that, the tea drunk in Britain all came from China, so"all the tea in China” effectively meant “all the tea in the world”. Which, given the huge consumption of tea in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, was saying a great deal.

By 1888 British tea imports from India were for the first time greater than those from China, and have continued so up to the present; the classic British and British-Empire “cuppa char” is brewed from Indian, not Chinese tea. So it was always inherently implausible that any such phrase would be coined as late as the 1890s.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ve said this before, but never trust Partridge (source of the “Australian” idea).

Edit: A Google Books pre-1850 search turns up only Rob Roy and The Juvenile Forget Me Not by S. C. Hall: “run to the gaol and tell Martha that Mr. Dacres, of Ashleigh, is in town to befriend her; it will do her more good than all the tea in China.” (Why the devil is it snippet view when it was published in 1837??)

[ Edited: 31 January 2008 03:26 PM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 01 February 2008 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Why the devil is it snippet view when it was published in 1837?

Because Google, very stupidly, uses the date of publication for the particular volume they scanned, not the date of publication for the actual, original work when making the determination of whether it gets the snippet view or not.

It’s either a case of complete failure to consult librarians in designing their library project or of lawyers run amok. In either case, Sergey and Larry need to slap someone hard.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Because Google, very stupidly, uses the date of publication for the particular volume they scanned, not the date of publication for the actual, original work when making the determination of whether it gets the snippet view or not.

Which is not entirely ridiculous, considering that they are displaying page facsimiles rather than simply electronic text.  A new publication of a work in the public domain may contain copyrightable material, such as a foreword, illustrations, etc.  It would be interesting to know if there’s any case law on the question of whether the act of typesetting a new edition, creating a specific new arrangement of words on pages, would constitute “derivative work” that could be protected.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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US Copyright law defines:

A “collective work” is a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

A “compilation” is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term “compilation” includes collective works.

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

All these things are copyrightable in the US, but:

(a) The subject matter of copyright as specified by section 102 includes compilations and derivative works, but protection for a work employing preexisting material in which copyright subsists does not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully.

(b) The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material.

Google wants to get as much material from as many publishers as possible so they are going to err on the side of caution (the most liberal interpretation favoring the publisher) in any case.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Because Google, very stupidly, uses the date of publication for the particular volume they scanned, not the date of publication for the actual, original work when making the determination of whether it gets the snippet view or not.

But the date of publication for the particular volume they scanned was 1837, as far as I can tell.  It doesn’t look like a reprint.

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