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CHAT: Must Needs?

From:Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>
Date:Monday, March 18, 2002, 17:45
At 1:24 AM -0500 03/18/02, David Peterson wrote:
>It's certainly a (literary only) archaism to older American ears like mine; >quite likely utterly unknown to many of the Younger Generation (Mr. E. Lash >excluded!) 8-)))>> Wrote Roger... > >??? I'm young. All young Americans seem to know this. We all are forced to >study a Shakespeare play a year. The phrase is the subject of fun, and >because of that, hardly not unheard of. However, it's never used seriously, >and probably understood to mean "an old way to say 'must'"--that's the way I >understood it, until now. How does "needs" mean "absolutely"? Any idea as >to the history?
Maybe Roger's point was not that younger Americans wouldn't *recognize* the construction, but that they wouldn't be able to use it appropriately. You seem to concur, when you say that "it's never used seriously". I am quite familiar with the expression, since one of my favorite passages from the _Book of Mormon_ uses it no less than three times: "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, not corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility." My father has the tendency to talk this way as well; the speech habits of many Mormons has been influenced by passages like this. While we as Mormons believe the _Book of Mormon_ to be ancient scripture, there is no denying that many of its linguistic patterns are rooted in the speech of early 19th century New England. Dirk -- Dirk Elzinga Man deth swa he byth thonne he mot swa he wile. 'A man does as he is when he can do what he wants.' - Old English Proverb


John Cowan <jcowan@...>