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Words in Gilbert & Sullivan's Operettas Login/Join
 
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In honor of our British friends, this week we feature words you can find in Gilbert & Sullivan. That subject is beyond my personal expertise ... but I have a friend well-situated. wink To give himself more of a challenge, he promises to feed me words only from operettas other than the "big three" (Pinafore, Penzance and The Mikado), all coming from passages about "the battle of the sexes".

P.S. In the quotations, female speakers will be indicated in italic type (curvy) and male speakers in regular type –- or would some kind soul teach me, by private topic, how to do male and female icons?
 
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$50 word: quiddity: 1. The real nature of a thing; the essence. 2. A hairsplitting distinction; a quibble. (note from wordcrafter: I’d emphasize #2)

Situation: In Patience, an aesthetic, poetic sort of young man has captured the ladies’ attention – much to the distaste of the man they used to adore. ("The damozels used to follow me wherever I went; now they all follow him!") He plots his counter-attack.
quote:
I'll tell him that unless he will consent to be more jocular--
To cut his curly hair, and stick an eyeglass in his ocular--
To stuff his conversation full of quibble and of quiddity,
To dine on chops and roly-poly pudding with avidity--
He'd better clear away with all convenient rapidity.
Sing "Hey to you-- Good-day to you"-- And that's what you should say!
 
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Wordcrafter, what a fabulous theme! big grin I catch every single G&S that I can, from high school productions all the way to the most professional. In fact, when I was choosing my name for this board, it was between 3: Kalleh from Yiddish or PittySing or YumYum from G&S. And, of course, Pooh Bah would have been my name choice were I male.
My favorite song is the "Major General" from Pirates of Penzance--now that song is about words! Thanks! wink
 
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has passed away. it's a pity, because he was crazy for Gilbert and Sullivan and he could have fed me all kinds of obscure words and lines to use here. the more he lost his hearing, the louder he played it. he had a big reel-to-reel tape player, a nagra or something. my cousins said they went to visit him and he wouldn't answer the door. they broke in and found him in the study, smoking a cigar (which he wasn't supposed to do) wearing his headphones and conducting Gilbert and Sullivan in his pajamas.he lo oked like Walter Matthau. he was a cool guy.

i only know "i'm the very model of a modern major-general" and "3 little maids from school". did you see when Frasier Krane was duped into singing that on Frasier? that was so funny.. big grin
 
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$50 word: incubus – 1. An evil spirit supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep. 2. A nightmare. 3. An oppressive or nightmarish burden.

The judge in Trial by Jury tells how he, beginning his career as an impoverished young lawyer, managed to rise to his current august position.

But I soon got tired of third-class journeys, and dinners of bread and water;
So I fell in love with a rich attorney's elderly, ugly daughter.
The rich attorney, he jumped with joy, and replied to my fond professions:
You shall reap the reward of your pluck, my boy at the Bailey and Middlesex sessions.
The rich attorney was good as his word; the briefs came trooping gaily,
And every day my voice was heard at the Sessions or Ancient Bailey.
At length I became as rich as the Gurneys-- an incubus then I thought her,
So I threw over that rich attorney's elderly, ugly daughter.
The rich attorney my character high tried vainly to disparage---
And now, if you please, I'm ready to try this Breach of Promise of Marriage!
 
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Well, WFC, since you also mentioned, "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General"--I am going to post the words since I love them. I have taken out the chorus for brevity. Thanks all for humoring me! And, no, WFC, I did not see that Frasier and would love to. wink

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's;
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;

I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat",
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery--
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
 
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$50 word: abjure - to renounce under oath; forswear; to recant solemnly; repudiate: abjure one's beliefs. to give up (an action or practice, for example); abstain from

The heroine in Princess Ida recognizes that women are vastly superior to men. She therefore founded a women's college at which
quote:
Each newly joined aspirant to the clan
Must repudiate the tyrant known as Man.
They mock at him and flout him / For they do not care about him,
And they’re 'going to do without him' – if they can!
Of course, the needs of both biology and drama dictate that they cannot “do without”. Ida laments the failure of her noble endeavor:
quote:
SHE: Oh, I had hoped to band all women with my maiden throng, and make them all abjure tyrannic Man! You ridicule it now; but if I carried out this glorious scheme, at my exalted name Posterity would bow in gratitude!
HE: But pray reflect — If you enlist all women in your cause, and make them all abjure tyrannic Man, the obvious question then arises, "How is this Posterity to be provided?"
SHE: I never thought of that!
 
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What a timely word! I heard it for the first time on Monday. In court, a young man asked for a paternity test, despite the fact that he had signed a document when the child was born stating he was the father. The judge stated, "then you need to abjure your previous statement." He didn't have a clue what the judge meant, and at least I got it from the usage.
 
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Going back to incubus. A succubus is also a demon supposed to and have sexual intercourse with a sleeping human -- the difference being that the succubus assaults a male human.

There are some interesting compare-and-contrast points:
  • Both AHD and MW explicitly define the succubus (coupling with men) as a female demon -- but do not say that the incubus (coupling with women) is necessarily a male demon. Based on this, it would seem then, that the though the succubus was strictly heterosexual, the incubus could be either a male or a homosexual female.¹
  • The words incubus and succubus derive from the latin for "to lie upon" (as in incubate and "to lie under" respectively. That is, each etymologically contemplates the male-superior position.
  • Only incubus acquired the further meaning of "nightmare"; succubus did not. The implication is that a man would not consider it "nightmarish" to be sexually assaulted in his sleep.
¹However, the dictionaries refer to a demon having "sexual intercourse", by which term they may be implying heterosexuality. Or they may have not thought through the specific details.
 
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The implication is that a man would not consider it "nightmarish" to be sexually assaulted in his sleep.

Well, now, isn't that sexist?! razz
 
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Yes -- my point exactly. But do note that the sexism is in the language; don't shoot the messenger, please? smile
 
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$20 word: chary – 1. Very cautious; wary: was chary of the risks involved. 2. Not giving or expending freely; sparing: was chary of compliments.
quote:
From Iolanthe: The Lord Chancellor had been pompous and domineering in speech, lording it over group of women – unaware that those women were powerful fairies with great magical powers.

Iolanthe:
Oh! Chancellor unwary / It's highly necessary
Your tongue to teach / Respectful speech-- / Your attitude to vary!
Your badinage so airy, / Your manner arbitrary,
Are out of place / When face to face / With an influential Fairy.


Chancellor:
A plague on this vagary, / I'm in a nice quandary!
Of hasty tone / With dames unknown / I ought to be more chary;
It seems that she's a fairy / From Andersen's library,
And I took her for / The proprietor / Of a Ladies' Seminary!
 
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$50 word: popinjay - A vain, talkative person. (AHD) A trifling, chattering, fop or coxcomb: `To be so pestered with a popinjay –Shak (M-W)
Situation: Yeoman of the Guard tells of a jester (“merryman”) gloomy with unrequited lover for a lady who scorned him. She instead loved a high-born lord -- but when the lord would have nothing to do with her, she recognized her mistake, and begged forgiveness.
quote:
I have a song to sing, O!
Sing me your song, O!
It is sung with a sigh / And a tear in the eye, / For it tells of a righted wrong, O!
It's a song of the merrymaid, once so gay,
Who turned on her heel and tripped away
From the peacock popinjay, bravely born,
Who turned up his noble nose with scorn
At the humble heart that he did not prize:
So she begged on her knees, with downcast eyes,
For the love of the merryman, moping mum,
Whose soul was sad, and whose glance was glum,
Who sipped no sup, and who craved no crumb,
As he sighed for the love of a ladye!

[BOTH ] Heighdy! heighdy! / Misery me--lack-a-day-dee!
His pains were o'er, and he sighed no more,
For he lived in the love of a ladye!
 
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a $100 word: philtre or philter: a love potion; a magic potion or charm. (As a verb: to enchant with or as if with a philtre.)
quote:
ALEXIS. They have invented a philtre, which, if report may be believed, is simply infallible. I intend to distribute it through the village, and within half-an-hour of my doing so there will not be an adult in the place who will not have learnt the secret of pure and lasting happiness. What do you say to that?

ALINE. Well, dear, of course a filter is a very useful thing in a house; but still I don't quite see that it is the sort of thing that places its possessor on the very pinnacle of earthly joy.

ALEXIS. Aline, you misunderstand me. I didn't say a filter--I said a philtre.

ALINE (alarmed). You don't mean a love-potion?

ALEXIS. On the contrary--I do mean a love potion.
 
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Well, philtre may be the same as a love potion, but just imagine these words........

I took my troubles down to Madame Rue
You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth
She's got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
Sellin' little bottles of philtre Number Nine


Somehow, it just doesn't have the same ring to it. wink
 
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