Dragaera and Shakespeare [Spoiler for POTD]

pddb at demesne.com pddb at demesne.com
Thu Feb 20 16:11:41 PST 2003

On Thu, Feb 20, 2003 at 03:08:37PM -0800, Philip Hart wrote:
> On Thu, 20 Feb 2003, Andrew Lias wrote:
> > >Queen Gertrude (final scence) says
> > >
> > >    He's fat, and scant of breath.
> >
> > I do recall that, now that you mention it.  I've always assumed that the
> > word "fat" was being used in some archaic form that wasn't congruent to the
> > modern usage.
> Subject to argument.  I think "faint" has been suggested as an emendation
> for "fat".

It has, but a more plausible suggestion is that "fat" means
"sweaty."  Sweat was believed to result from the melting of
fat (Tilley has a long bit on this, but I can't recall the
exact citation now).  My favorite bit in support of this
(admittedly somewhat tenuous, except that the outre usage is just
exactly like Shakespeare) position is the mention of a Wisconsin
farm wife greeting a group of sweaty visitors with the remark,
"How fat you all are!" in 1923.  American regional English being
a weird repository of various usages now archaic in Britain, and


Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet           (pddb at demesne.com)
"I will open my heart to a blank page
   and interview the witnesses."  John M. Ford, "Shared World"