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  1. Senior Member
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Dec 2003
    • Posts: 514

    have no visible means of support?

    Dear Teachers,

    I read these from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy:

    1. "The Poor Law was passed in 1601, making it a crime for poor people to have no visible means of support."

    What does "having no visible means of support" mean? Why does the author say The Poor Law made it a crime?

    2. "Then she told him about the baby, which was due before long, and Leif moved up his departure plans."

    What does "move up" mean in this context?

    3. "Cortez had heard that Montezuma had a secret treasure chamber. He had come from Cuba just to pay Montezuma a friendly visit. He hadn't the slightest idea of stealing the gold and jewels. Now you tell one."

    What does "now you tell one" mean?

    4. "Captain John Smith made a specialty of cutting off the heads of the Turks and he once cut off three in a row, to hear him tell it."

    Does "to hear him tell it" mean "to obey him"?

    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 364

    Re: have no visible means of support?

    1) It means where does the person get the money that they need to live. This could be a job, a pension, savings, spouse etc. These are their means of supporting their expenditure. Someone without any visible means must have invisible means, since they still must buy things, probably a criminal.

    2) He decided to depart sooner.

    3) ?

    4) Nope, it means the style in which he would tell the story. Bragging of cutting off 3 heads in a row, which probably didn't happen.

    Henry, Prince of Wales. . . . I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the North, that kills me some six or seven dozen Scots at breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife, "Fie upon this quiet life! I want work," "O my sweet Harry," says she, "How many hast thou killed today?" "Give my roan horse a drench", says he, and answers "Some fourteen" an hour after—" a trifle, a trifle." I'll play Percy, and that damned brawn shall play Dame Mortimer, his wife. "Bibo" says the drunkard. Call in ribs, call in tallow.
    (King Henry IV, Act II, Scene IV)

  2. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,037

    Re: have no visible means of support?

    3 - my guess is that the writer is cynically making a play on the common collocations 'tell a story' and 'tell a lie/fib'. He's implying 'Of course Cortez was not just being friendly'.


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