"More pedantic nonsense"
December 10, 2021 6:52 AM   Subscribe

 
That is some amazing writing. And singing and percussion. Rhyming "bestows" with "boisterous bros" is particularly inspired.
posted by Nelson at 7:12 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


And amazing facial hair grooming as well.
posted by buildmyworld at 7:22 AM on December 10


I love it.

The sheer weight that sometimes very subtle changes in cadence have on language delivering meaning is pretty amazing. Which itself will vary by the language, by the dialect of it, and that on top of individual quirks of speaking. Then any written form of language can only start to get at that facet imperfectly at best using punctuation conventions which are also slippery enough to make prescriptivists feel existential dread to really contemplate.
posted by Drastic at 7:23 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Clearly it goes in the same place that the exclamation mark in Godspeed You! Black Emperor goes. Namely, wherever it's needed most.
posted by tclark at 7:27 AM on December 10 [9 favorites]


I love the concept, the writing, and the singing, but almost felt physical pain watching the percussionist.

Boy needs to check his definition of beatboxing.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:35 AM on December 10 [4 favorites]


Then any written form of language can only start to get at that facet imperfectly at best using punctuation conventions which are also slippery enough to make prescriptivists feel existential dread. . .

True, and as I get older I am more and more descriptivist. But nerdy teenage son delights in pointing out that "punctuation saves lives," with his canonical example being: "Let's eat, Grandma!"

So far I have not explained to him that correct capitalization is equally important, as in: "They helped their Uncle Jack off his horse."
posted by The Bellman at 7:39 AM on December 10 [26 favorites]


It's a super fun video!!

I hope that the percussion track only took one take.

You know, to avoid .... repercussions.
posted by brainwane at 7:39 AM on December 10 [41 favorites]


You know, to avoid .... repercussions.

That was bad. You are a bad person. Take my upvote.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:43 AM on December 10 [8 favorites]


Well, he's had some experience with the (re)percussion.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:44 AM on December 10 [4 favorites]


My wife was a magazine editor. I want to share this, but quake at how deeply she may rabbit hole with it. This should be amazing.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 7:47 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


My mom just retired last week after a decades-long career teaching English as a second language, and is spending most of her free time singing choral music, so I think she might like this video. Thanks!
posted by theodolite at 8:11 AM on December 10


What does "dgo stre ey reymr nengimete" mean, at 15 sec?
posted by bitslayer at 8:14 AM on December 10


This is delightful. :)

Reminds me of a conversation I had with an appropriately-aged nephew who was complaining about people mentioning his lack of grammar and punctuation in texts.

I said, “Good grammar gets you laid.”

He didn’t reply, but his texting punctuation improved.
posted by Silvery Fish at 8:15 AM on December 10 [2 favorites]


What does "dgo stre ey reymr nengimete" mean, at 15 sec?

That's an "L" not an "I" in the last word, so it's just each of the words ("God rest ye merry gentlemen") scrambled up to go with the sung line at that moment: ". . . or we'll sing it wrong . . . ".

At least that was my take!
posted by The Bellman at 8:21 AM on December 10


that ending. didn't see it coming, and awesome.
posted by martin q blank at 8:21 AM on December 10


Nice, but I think the "pedantic" quality of the song is weakened by lines such as "But singing it makes us wonder where the commas belong" (putting the acCENTS on the wrong sylLABles). He could easily have written "But singing it we wonder where the commas do belong" or something that at least scans properly.
posted by mpark at 8:48 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


It’s a trick question, there are two commas! I learned this when I was young and furtively leafing through a December issue of Playboy that my father kept in his nightstand. I found a full-page cartoon of a spent and naked woman in bed with three eager men, and she was exclaiming, “God, rest, ye merry gentlemen!”

There you have it.
posted by ejs at 9:42 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I have pedantic quibbles with this pedantry. His interpretation for one of the potential comma locations would work were it “yon merry gentlemen”, but is not a reasonable interpretation for “ye merry gentleman”. And I always assumed that “God rest you” was like “God bless you”, and more of a benediction wished upon the merry gentlemen, not… whatever convoluted interpretation he arrives at and claims must be the meaning if the comma is to be placed after “you”. Interestingly, apparently the original lyric was “God rest you merry gentlemen”, with “you” being replaced by “ye” at some point as a grammatically inaccurate (given that it’s part of the archaic expression “God rest you merry”) faux Middle English thing.

Anyway. It’s a cute enough video.
posted by eviemath at 9:45 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


It’s really “Go dress, you married gentlemen,” and it’s an admonition for the happy couple to make themselves presentable for the post-wedding brunch.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:04 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


metafilter: I have pedantic quibbles with this pedantry.

(sorry! I get your point, but it was too irresistible.)
posted by martin q blank at 10:21 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


It is a trick question, of course, there is no comma, only an exclamation mark, like

God Rest Ye! Merry Gentlemen
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:36 PM on December 10


OK, roughly four hours later:

It turns out that the very earliest known version of this carol dates to the early 1650s. The first two verses go:
Sit yow merry Gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
for Jesus Christ is borne
to save or soules from Satan's power
Whenas we runne astray
O tidings of comfort & joy
to save or soules from Satan
When as we runne away
O tidings of comfort & joy
In Bethlehem sweet Jury
this blessed babe was fownd
And layd within A manger
upon this blessed morne
When as his mother mary
Did nothing take in Vaine
O tidings of comfort & joy
When as his mother mary
Did nothing take in Vaine
O tidings of comfort & joy
Full transcription here (Bruce Olson, USC-Fresno).

This text is found in MS Eng. poet. b. 5, which is a
long ledger-size miscellany of recusant verse and some prose, including 32 poems by Robert Southwell, largely in the single neat hand of Gertrude Thimelby (1617-68) . . . c.1651-7.

Associated with the Fairfax family of Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, including Thomas Fairfax (d.1691), yeoman. Later inscribed with the name ‘Harriet Marcusden’. Sold by P.J. Dobell [to the Bodleian Library], 1948.
The Bodleian Library catalog entry for MS Eng. poet. b. 5 is here. The entry notes "At p. 89 is a notice of the birth and death of John Fairfax, son of Thomas and Issabell Fairfax, in August 1654." The copy of "Sit you merry Gentleman" is on page 57 of the manuscript, which places that entry some time before August 1654 (and most likely in 1651-2 per Brown).

("Sit you merry" and similar phrases like "Rest you merry" were used in the time of Shakespeare and Jonson. Based on that type of language, best guess for when "Sit you merry Gentlemen" was first written might be late 1500s to early 1600s.)

More information about the manuscript is in this article by Cedric Brown (you'll need a free JSTOR registration to read it in full). The manuscript was
associated with the houses of Catholic yeoman families in the parish of Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire. . . . There are two topical news items . . . a fantastic news story about blasphemy and a monstrous birth in Essex [a woman claimed to have conceived the Messiah by the Holy Ghost, after 8 days labor gave birth to a stillborn monster with claws like a toad] . . . and on the blank verso of page 100 another incredible story about the conversion to Rome of the Queen of China. . . .

Jesuit authors are often represented. . . . As one might expect in recusant circles, we have evidence of a complex transmission chain through secret Catholic networks, using materials printed in the Jesuit presses and/or involving acts of copying at various stages. . . .

The communal use of many of the texts is evident from the very opening [ie, many hymns, carols, texts tied to church festivals - including a block of 24 consecutive texts, pp. 50-69 that includes "Sit you merry Gentlemen"]
posted by flug at 2:06 AM on December 11 [11 favorites]


There they go again, removing Satan from Christmas!
posted by sylvanshine at 5:43 AM on December 11 [4 favorites]


Boy needs to check his definition of beatboxing. Rhythmic Auto-Pugilism.
posted by otherchaz at 7:51 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


I always assumed that “God rest you” was like “God bless you”, and more of a benediction wished upon the merry gentlemen, not… whatever convoluted interpretation he arrives at and claims must be the meaning if the comma is to be placed after “you”

I think that's a sensical reading of the line. It also seems to me that context, rather than punctuation, is more useful in determining the sense of a traditional song, which is fundamentally oral in nature, with punctuation being inferred by transcribers.

Inferring a comma after either "you" or "merry", or not inferring one at all, means that the gentlemen start off being merry, and God is exhorted to preserve ("rest") something. The difference is whether the preservation is of the gentlemen ("God [keep] ye, merry gentlemen") or of their merriment ("God [keep] ye merry, gentlemen"). Without a comma at all, it seems ambiguous, until you note the context of the song as a whole and that the next line in particular, "let nothing ye dismay", makes much more sense if taken to be a continuation of the same thought, which expresses the same sentiment as the first line (continued merriment) in negatory terms.

TL; DR - punctuation is overrated.
posted by howfar at 2:32 AM on December 13 [1 favorite]


Although rest in the modern sense, rather than meaning something akin to “keep”, does make sense in the context of the second line. More about easing of cares and worries, bringing the comfort part of ”comfort and joy”. This is where the historical context is also helpful, of course. It’s kind of cool that the language has developed such that a modern reading, with “merry” modifying “gentleman” and “rest” referring to comforting, makes as much sense (albeit with different nuances of meaning) as what was apparently the original reading!
posted by eviemath at 4:50 AM on December 13


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