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    #1

    She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

    Dear teachers,

    Early in the morning I read a passage of Somerset Maugham’s “The escape” where I noted another strange expression which aroused my curiosity.

    ‘She (Mrs. Barlow) was apparently one of those unfortunate people (persons) with whom nothing by any chance goes right. If she married a husband he beat her; if she employed a broker he cheated her; if she engaged a cook she drank. She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.”

    Would you be kind enough to explain to me the meaning of the expression in bold?

    The context involves the speculation that “there was never anything dear to her that she wouldn’t lose.” This is again a very cleverly used metaphor ”a little lamb-somebody one loves dearly; an allusion to the well-known nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb.”

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards

    V.
    Last edited by vil; 26-Jul-2008 at 08:13.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,
    She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.
    V.
    Yes, it means "Any little lamb she had was sure to die"
    It's not a common construction these days.
    You can translate any similar construction the same way.
    "He never sat an exam but he failed it" = He has always failed his exams.

  2. dodonaomik's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

    I like English literature ,but it's a pity that I have no opportunity to study.Now, I want to send a sentence to you



    lamb

    I was astonished ; astonished to see a lamb act so.
    __________Charles Neider: The Complete Humorous Sketshes and Tales of Mark Twain

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

    Quote Originally Posted by dodonaomik View Post
    lamb

    I was astonished ; astonished to see a lamb act so.
    __________Charles Neider: The Complete Humorous Sketshes and Tales of Mark Twain
    Hi, I'm not sure if you have a question here.
    Twain saw a lamb acting in a un-lamb-like way, and was astonished. This is the literal meaning. It could have been a metaphorical lamb acting in an un-metaphorical-lamb-like way.

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    #5

    Re: She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

    Hi Raymott,

    Thank you for your participation in the present thread.

    There are two similar expressions with up-to-date sounding.

    "He is a regular Jonah."

    "His bread always falls on the buttered side."

    Regards

    V.

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    #6

    Re: She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Hi Raymott,

    Thank you for your participation in the present thread.

    There are two similar expressions with up-to-date sounding.

    "He is a regular Jonah."

    "His bread always falls on the buttered side."

    Regards

    V.
    Hi, I'm not sure of the first - not being a biblical scholar.
    The second is simply a law of bad luck - if you drop a piece of bread, it always falls on the buttered side (i.e. you can't eat it after that). It means he is always unlucky.

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