Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not the British, too!

Carter Kaplan
(Image from Highbrow)

I'm currently reading Carter Kaplan's first and, so far, only novel, Tally-Ho, Cornelius!, which I'm enjoying . . . but more on that another time, after I've finished and had time to reflect.

Today, I wish merely to ask a question, after a brief quote describing some divines and assorted women at a dinner table as seen through the eyes of the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Cornelius:
Sitting to Catherine's right, the Reverend Dr. Cornelius studied this closely and rather grimly wondered how the lot of them might appear sitting behind the glass of a museum diorama. Sitting beside him, his brother smiled up and down at the diners and -- completely oblivious to American table customs -- freely and shamelessly expelled the compressed gas that had gathered inside his large intestine. Oona bust out laughing. Her chortles and snorts were so voluble that Bishop Achebe looked round confused, while Bishop Marvel thought to raise his napkin to cover his smiling lips. The postmodern divine turned to his wife and softly growled through the corner of his mouth, "Is that your friend laughing, or did a stuffed hyena follow you home from the museum this afternoon?" (Kaplan, Tally-Ho, Cornelius!, pages 112-113)
This might be a rather confusing passage to excerpt since it includes so many characters to whom one has not yet been properly introduced, namely, Dr. Cornelius, his wife Catherine, her friend Oona . . . but let that be for now. On to my questions, for as things turn out, I have two.

First, do the British actually pass gas so shamelessly during meals? I've visited Britain several times without noticing this phenomenon. I know that Icelanders do it freely and unselfconsciously . . . but the British?

Second, is "bust" a past tense of "bust"? Or should that read "burst"? Let me check the Free Dictionary for "bust" . . . hmmm, yes, "bust" as past tense does seem possible. I'd always thought that the forms were "bust, busted, busted," but maybe this verb "bust" takes after its more legitimate cousin, "burst, burst, burst"?

Perhaps Mr. Carter Kaplan, who has previously visited and commented on this blog, could verify these two points?



At 5:45 PM, Anonymous David Duff said...

I would love to - such a relief on occasions - but I lack the necessary courage; the little 'Memsahib' can turn into a whirling dervish at even a hint!

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

It would be nice . . . or not nice, I suppose, but certainly a relief, except when that devilishly whirling dervish goes "skating his sin-spinning ways" (to quote Hank Wangford).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Newfoundland we use "bust" interchangeably with "burst" - as in "I bust/burst out laughing". I'm not sure of the origins but I remember about 10 years ago, while listening to Ivor Cutler's "The Aggressive Onion Vender", wondering about his use of the same word. He says "I bu(r)st into tears and ran away .. " and I couldn't (still can't!) tell if he said "bust" or if he said "burst" - but with an accent that reduced the "r". I thought that might (partially) explain the carryover into Newfoundland English.

I realize, after typing all this, that it's probably of no help whatsoever - but anyway - I just had to bust it out. Before I bust?

Cheers from Daejeon!

At 5:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

In the Ozarks, we also used "bust" for "burst," but we treated it as a regular verb that took "-ed" in the past and participle forms.

I suppose, however, that "bust" being a variant for "burst," which is irregular and does not change form at all in the past and the participle, then "bust" should follow the same pattern.

Thanks for the Daejeon greeting. I see, by the way, that you've been carrying on a dialogue with En-Uk on his art blog. Thanks for helping to keep him interested.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:08 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

I think perhaps colloquial American usage slipped in-between the standard, or it might be a typo (groan).

Fearful of mitigating the artistic effect of the dinner joke, I'll defer on other question.

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for visiting, Mr. Kaplan, and for not bu(r)sting our bubble by explaining the joke.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:18 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...



At 5:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'll take that as a groan of laughter.

Jeffery Hodges

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