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USAGE: "privilege" as "permission"

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Saturday, November 25, 2006, 4:58
There's a song on Robert Palmer's last studio album called "Stella",
which has some interesting English.  I get the impression it is a
traditional song from somewhere, rather than an original composition,
and he sings it with an Island lilt, but beyond that I don't know

The song concerns the young lady named in the title, who gets tipsy on
the wine at a Christening and then goes to the local bar to have more
to drink and hit on the bartender, a family friend.  The bartender,
who narrates the whole song, says he refuses to take advantage of her
and intends to have a serious talk with her when she sobers up.  Her
response is the repeated chorus:

Go ahead and take your advantage
Go ahead, I give you privilege
Don't worry, don't have no sympathy
This is between you and me

I can take care of myself
Be a love and bring the whiskey from the shelf
Only give me one or two
We will see who is taking advantage of who

This use of "I give you privilege" is novel to me, as is the form of
the admonishment "don't have no/any sympathy".  The latter would
almost sound natural IML with "for me" appended, and maybe it was
truncated for metrical reasons, but it still seems slightly off in

Anyone know anything about the song or the idoms?  Google turned up 4
hits for "i give you privilege" - oddly enough, none of them the
lyrics to the song in question.  Two of the hits - dialog in a story
by a Swedish author (presumably non-native English) and lyrics in a
religious song (dialogue attributed to God therein, presumably
intentionally done up in "archaic" or "Biblical" style) I discounted
for the parenthetical reasons.  The other two are more interesting:
there's a line in an 1851 novel where "privilege" is clearly a drop-in
replacement for "permission": "I give you privilege to open it".  And
there's a modern use - a quotation in an article about an art exhibit,
in which a photographer says "I'm an insider, so I give you privilege
to that world".  Different meaning, but still an odd idiom.  The
photographer's name is Heinrich, but I got the impression she's
American, not German.

Any thoughts?

Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>


Edgard Bikelis <bikelis@...>
Paul Schleitwiler, FCM <pjschleitwilerfcm@...>