Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

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Odd exclamations! Two of 'em!

A post in a friend's LJ just reminded me of a mild exclamation (yes, I realize that is arguably an oxymoron) I haven't heard in 20 years: Lord, love a duck. I used to hear it in my twenties, mostly from people in their fifties or older, in response to strange news. For instance, sitting in the Last Exit one day (the late lamented Seattle coffeehouse that was my livingroom through most of my 20s), a woman who was smart, beautiful, and an elegant dresser came in holding hands with a guy who was generally considered a bit of a slob and a stoner. Tex Grove (a master ship's carpenter in his 50s who read Kant) looked up, kept looking for just long enough for the rest of us at the table to start to turn to see what he was looking at, and said "Lord, love a duck."

I heard another odd exclamation for the first time in my life the other day, which I'm going to ask you to wait to learn while I provide a little background. British television has a category of programs I suppose you could call Living History Reality Shows.: A house and its surroundings are restored to some historical period, and a group of people move in, trying to live as their ancestors did. There are two subgenres: In one, people with no particular qualifications other than a desire to be on television move in and proceed to make fools of themselves and/or whine. (My description perhaps reveals how much I dislike this approach.) In the other, which I enjoy far more, people with some historical expertise, enthusiasm for the period, and at least an intellectual grasp of historical skills are brought in, giving them a chance to live what they had previously only studied. Early this year the BBC ran one of the latter type called Victorian Farm (which I have not yet watched all of), and this month they ran a three part addendum, Victorian Farm Christmas, in which the cast return to the farm to put on a Victorian Christmas celebration. A woman in the cast, Ruth Goodman, is a historian who specializes in domestic history and is an enthusiastic advocate of experimental history. She had just been picked up in a horsecart for the ride back to the farm, and on the ride she was told how many people they — which to a large extent means she — would be preparing a Victorian Christmas feast (in a Victorian kitchen with Victorian tools and techniques) for. To which she replied, with what I believe to have been unfeigned surprise, Oh my Guinea Aunt.

I can only assume it's an actual Victorian exclamation that's all but entirely died out (Google currently finds only one instance of it*), but that she's so thoroughly immersed herself in the period that it's become an entirely natural thing for her to say, at least when in costume.

(Edit: It occurred to me while I was trying to figure out what it might mean that perhaps, in spite of being said with a hard G, it was ginny rather than Guinea. But I only just now got around to Googling that. There are a few more hits, including one with a cricket video in which the announcer uses it when what I can only assume was an amazing play happend.)

Do you have a favorite odd exclamation? I'd love to hear it.

* Though I wonder how long it will take after I post this for it to find two.
Tags: english
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