Monday, March 31, 2008


The Focative Case

Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, IV.1.42-46:
Sir Hugh Evans:
What is the focative case, William?

William Page:
O,—vocativo, O.

Sir Hugh Evans:
Remember, William; focative is caret.

Mistress Quickly:
And that's a good root.
This passage was not bowdlerized but appears in full in Thomas Bowdler's The Family Shakespeare...In Which Nothing Is Added to the Original Text; But Those Words and Expressions Are Omitted Which Cannot with Propriety Be Read Aloud in a Family (1818).

Neverthless Eric Partridge, Shakespeare's Bawdy, found obscenities not only in focative (a pun on the f- word), caret (i.e. carrot = membrum virile), and root (membrum virile), but also in O, which he connected with ring and circle (all three to him signifying pudendum muliebre).

Related post: Grammar Is Sexy.

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