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  1. Cap1034
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    #1

    What does this mean?

    There’s a man with a Nose,
    And wherever he goes
    The people run from him and shout:
    “No cotton have we
    For our ears if so be
    He blow that interminous snout!”
    So the lawyers applied
    For injunction. “Denied,”
    Said the Judge: “the defendant prefixion,
    Whate’er it portend,
    Appears to transcend
    The bounds of this court’s jurisdiction.”

    Does this mean, "Don't blow your nose! If you do, we will have no cotton for our ear muffs!"

    The story is about the people of a town applying for an injunction to stop the man from blowing his nose, to which the court says, "We have no jurisdiction over the matter."

    Am I right?

    • Member Info
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      • English
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      • England
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      • England

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    #2

    Re: What does this mean?

    You have nearly got it right. 'We have no cotton wool to stuff in our ears to muffle the sound'.

    Please name the author of this poem.

  2. Cap1034
    Guest
    #3

    Re: What does this mean?

    This is from the Devil's Dictionary, and I did some searching on the net but to no avail. It looks like a poem written by this author for this particular definition.
    Last edited by Cap1034; 15-Jan-2014 at 10:54.

  3. Cap1034
    Guest
    #4

    Re: What does this mean?

    But isn't this poem ungrammatical?
    Because "blow" and "portend" should be accompanied by S.
    What do you think?

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: What does this mean?

    The form without the -s​ suffix is subjunctive. It is grammatically correct, but few people use it these days - In BrE, at least.

  5. Cap1034
    Guest
    #6

    Re: What does this mean?

    But what about "whatever it portend"? This is not subjunctive

  6. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: What does this mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmorgan View Post
    But what about "whatever it portend"? This is not subjunctive
    It is.

  7. Cap1034
    Guest
    #8

    Re: What does this mean?


  8. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: What does this mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmorgan View Post
    No, it doesn't. One of the people there says that the subjunctive is not possible in a similar sentence. Another sees no reason for it. It is, however, a subjunctive.

    Whate’er it portend has the idea of whatever it may portend.

    When Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary appeared in 1906, most 'educated' speakers would have used this form.

  9. Cap1034
    Guest
    #10

    Re: What does this mean?

    So this is "should" missing here?
    What is omitted here is may?

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