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  1. #1
    mrghd is offline Junior Member
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    Default Gotten in the last word

    (source: Iceberg Slim – Pimp, The story of my life)

    Section of the novel that contains the expression:

    “In a voice I could scarcely hear through her parched lips, she whispered: Forgive me Son, forgive me. Mama didn't know. I'm sorry. I stood there watching her last tears rolling down her dead cheeks from the blank eyes. I crushed her to me. I tried to get my final plea past death's grim shield: Oh Mama, nothing has been your fault, believe me, nothing. If you are foolish enough to think so, then I forgive you. I staggered blindly from the hospital. I went to the parking lot. I fell across the car hood and cried my heart out. I stopped crying. I thought Mama had really gotten in the last word this time.”

    Background:

    After Slim decided to finish with criminal life he travels to his mother and spends some months with her. The old lady is seriously ill. Actually those were her last months and Slim finally has to see how his mother dies. He becomes shocked by this.

    What I cannot Interpret is the last sentence of the quotation:

    ‘I thought Mama had really gotten in the last word this time.’

    ?

  2. #2
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Gotten in the last word

    "Get in the last word" is an idiom. It means to say something that puts an end to the discussion. It might be something that merely attempts to contradict or dismiss what the other person is saying, and in that case there could well be competing attempts to get in the last word. Or it might be something so profound or so obviously true that the other person simply cannot find a suitable reply. I think that is the sense in which Slim used it in your example.

    Footnote: gotten is still commonly heard in AmE, but I have been told that it is extinct in BrE.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Gotten in the last word

    It may be that Mama always used to get the last word in. Slim was saying that this time she had really done it, not by leaving the room but by dying.

    And 'gotten' is virtually extinct in British English, though it is used in some dialects (spoken in the UK). It is visible though as a 'fossil' (currently used word which is derived from an archaic word) in the word 'forgotten'; it is also visible in the word 'misbegotten' - which is itself nearly extinct.

    b

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