The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Six Degrees teaser: Mrs Gaskell and Doris Day

BBC Radio 7 (!) [1] has just started broadcasting Wives and Daughters - made around fifteen years ago, I'd guess, when older actors (at least) could manage a decent RP - which prompted me to get up an etext [2].

And in the first paragraph of Chapter 3, one finds:
...the masculine reasoners of the little society, left off the attempt, feeling that the Che sara sara would prove more silencing to the murmurs than many arguments.

The song
was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 re-make of his 1934 film "The Man Who Knew Too Much" starring Doris Day and James Stewart.

There are endless arguments to be had over the words - as, for example, here - Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, grammatically correct or not, etc.

The Gaskell Che must be Italian. According to King's Classical and Foreign Quotations [3], on page 44, the phrase Che sarà, sarà is a proverb and the motto of the Bedford family. The book quotes a rather dull 1847 anecdote from a Miss Edgeworth (Maria Edgeworth, I assume) referring to Lord John Russell (a member of that family) and the Whig (or was it Liberal by then?) government's doctrinaire attitude to the Irish Famine [4].

  1. Broadcasts archived comedy shows and dramas. There is a rolling six day online archive of streamed content.

  2. There is a Gutenberg, but this HTML version is easier to work with on the screen (though the text is unreliable - on the site of, and presumably transcribed by, a Japanese.)

  3. Previously mentioned here on November 12 2003.

  4. A caveat is worth entering on the lack of accents in the Gaskell. Which, if in the original, might be due to typesetter's (or author's) ignorance; or might suggest that the proverb was not in what one might call Standard Italian, but in one of the dialects.

    A case in point - Marlon Brando Godfather serendipity, of a sort! - is omerta. Which was a Sicilian word, accented, as I believe, on the second syllable. The rise of the mafia, and associated hoopla, brought the word into Standard Italian - normalised (with change of accent) to omertà - as dignità or onestà.

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