Student or Learner
Could you please help me understand it? The following is what I'm pretty sure about.Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, fewd dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy athaht pyin. Will ye-oo py me f'them?
Oh, he is your son, is he? Wal, fewd dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a poor girl's flahrzn than ran away athaht paying. Will you pay me for them?
Now, that's what I guess.
Oh, he is your son, is he? Well, if you'd done your duty bawmz a mother should, he'd know/now better to spawl a poor girl's flowers than/then run away without paying. Will you pay me for them?
I don't get the grammar of this sentence, hence the ambiguities.
Could it possibly be duty bound?
Hmmm. The 'z' of bawmz is probably 'as' (giving 'as a mother should'). But that still leaves bawm... (The vowel sound may be 'oi' as in 'spoil', but ...)
The rest of your reading's fine, except that you missed 'should know better THAN to' (or maybe it was just a typo). And it's 'then' before 'run away', and 'now' rather than 'know' so that the whole thing is:
Oh, he is your son, is he? [No problem with grammar - Well done with 'ye-ooa' !] Well, if you'd done your duty ...... as [I'm pretty sure about this. 'As' joins 'than' in 'bettern' and 'and' in 'flahrzn' - a short but crucial grammatical marker being hidden in a single phoneme - which is syllabic: bettern is three syllables, for example] a mother should, he'd know better than* to spoil a poor girl's flowers and then run away without paying. Will you pay me for them?
If you 'know better than' to do something, you know that doing it is not the right way to behave. It's often abbreviated to 'You should know better' - which means 'You should know better than to think or behave in that way'. When Maria says to Anita (in West Side Story) that because she loved Bernardo she should know that people in love think in ways that go against their upbringing, she sings 'You were in love, or so you said. You really should know better.'
Well done on deciphering as much as you have! I'll keep thinking about 'bawmz'.
Last edited by BobK; 01-Sep-2010 at 12:53. Reason: fix typo
"by him as"
Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, fewd dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy athaht pyin. Will ye-oo py me f'them?
Oh, he's your son is he? Well, if you'd done your duty by him as a mother should, he'd know better than to spoil a poor girl's flowers then run away without paying. Will you pay me for them?
to do your duty by someone = to do act towards them as you should - in this case, to have raised him properly
Sadly, I must confess that I know the answer to this question because of a love of old musicals, and this line is kept, word for word, in My Fair Lady. Although I have also seen Pygmalion (sans music) on stage several times too. It's a lot clearer to figure out the meaning when you hear it spoken properly.
Isn't the clear difference in emphasis between "ye-ooa" and "y' " absolutely lovely?
Last edited by Tullia; 01-Sep-2010 at 13:12.
Bawmz = by him as
If you'd done your duty by him, as a mother should ...
Do I win a prize?!
I suppose you must share the trophy!
PS I think Tdol may be right. In that case, the 'm' is probably a typo* for 'n'. The use of 'duty bound' as if it were a free-standing noun is the sort of illiteracy that Shaw was satirizing. When it is your duty to do something, you are 'bound by your duty' to do it, you are 'duty-bound'. (There was once an irregular participle 'bounden', which now only exists in the expression 'bounden duty'; you don't speak of a 'bounden prisoner'. I imagine the '-en' ending survives in 'bounden duty' because it spares the tongue some phonetic gymnastics . That's not relevant, but I think it's interesting.)
PS *Not necessarily BC's typo, or a web transcriber's typo, or some OCR software's typo. This may go back to the first edition (1914, I think; I doubt if it was published first in Britain. Its opening performance was in Germany in 1913.) The compositor may well have been baffled by Shaw's manuscript.
PPS too late. The Tullia/emsr2d2 hypothesis is obviously right. The expression 'to do your duty by someone' may be new to you; but it's fine. (Maybe a bit archaic.) I was right about the 'oi' sound: Cockney 'by' has that diphthong.
Last edited by BobK; 01-Sep-2010 at 13:18. Reason: Added PPS