Friday, December 25, 2009

The first raspberry in the English language?

Among the upper, educated classes, the French stories clearly circulated freely, but the development of a vernacular tradition was seriously hindered by what was for many years the depressed status of the English language. (I had vivid experience of this myself, years ago, while working on medieval London. I came across an early fourteenth-century case in the city courts which used French. An English clothes-dealer and his Welsh friend had been fined for causing a fracas in a brothel, whereupon they made a habit of standing at the roadside and neighing like horses whenever the aldermen rode by! Rebuked, they replied with ribald snorts of 'Trrphut! Trrphut!' (perhaps the first recorded raspberry?) — described as a rude 'English' expression!)

— Gwyn A. Williams, Excalibur: The Search for Arthur (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1994), 161

Surprising that no one has tried anything like this in Amherst. Our local government certainly has its vocal critics.

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