17 Comments

  1. It’s just the modern phrase “Smoke em if you got em” being said in Biblical times. I got a chuckle out of it as it’s something Moses would never say.

  2. I do feel sympathy for the embarrassed pup in the Moon panel. But his human ought to explain that the friends coming along, and any other dogs encountered on walks around there, also have to do their business in semi-public, and are not going to think ill of him.

  3. Yeah, but the bad grammar really does throw it off — if you want to emphasize it is archaic/biblical () speech, then do it correctly, or at least less wrongly, ie: smoke ’em if *ye got ’em

    (*) which is to say, a modern translation at the time to a language at least 1500 years after any of the original — but you, know, if King James English was good enough for the Apostle Paul…

  4. I’m confused about the Loose Parts. I know Airbnb, but what does adding “nb” to it have to do with beavers?

  5. It’s unclear if the (modern) command has singular or plural ‘you’. But I think it probably is singular — hence SMB’s formulation with “thou” may fit better than larK’s “ye”.

  6. There was a news story about a house that had a huge nest of bees inside the walls, which only became evident when honey started dripping through the wall. If the owners had made that into a BnB, that could have been a BnBnB. I don’t know of any cases of an infestation of beavers.

  7. Interestingly, if you try to make the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” more correct in old English, you might lose the flow of the quote.

  8. In the singular, it would be “smoke ’em if thou hast ’em”. In the plural, it would be “smoke ’em if you got ’em.” The early modern English plural imperiative is essentially unchaged to the contemporary modern English.

  9. More Biblical would be something like “Let who hath, smoke,” perhaps. “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” is a second-person imperative, but for some reason the Bible has a preference for third-person imperatives. “Here is wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast.” as opposed to, say, “If you’re smart, figure out the number of the beast.” Also the Bible seems to like to leave out pronouns and condense things down. “Let those who have cigarettes and other smokables smoke them” -> “Let every one who hath it, smoke it” -> “Let one who hath smoke” -> “Let smoke who hath.”

  10. “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” is a second-person imperative
    Yes, but plural or singular? I was trying to parse that out by seeing how I would report the speech: Moses told them to smoke them if they had them vs Moses told one to smoke them if one had them
    Of course, it is awfully awkward if it was meant as singular to report it as such, because either you need to assume the sex, (Moses told him to smoke them if he had them) or use the awkward “one” (on va a la plage!) like I did, or else just use “they” to mean undetermined singular, in which case you’ve just carried on the ambiguity of the “you”!

  11. larK, for the contemporary (well, 1940s maybe) version, can you see it as a sort of distributed singular. That is, grammatically singular but semantically collective, applying to any one in the squad.

  12. See, I came to opposite conclusion, that it was grammatically plural but semantically singular, applying to any one in the squad…

  13. Singular or plural hardly seems to matter much; just a choice between “Let all who…” and “Let each who…”. Maybe it makes more difference in the original languages. I know that Greek and Hebrew can express the third-person imperative as easily as we express the second-person imperative. We have to do it with a workaround that appears to use a second-person imperative: (You understood) let there be light.

    The Douay translation of Genesis tries to directly express a third-person imperative:

    And God said: Be light made. And light was made.

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