Friday, 14 August 2015

She wouldn't of done that


I always assumed that the use of would of instead of would have was a comparatively recent error, perhaps due to mishearing would've. In general I like colloquial language as an aid to understanding without pomposity, but I'll admit that errors such as would of do grate. To my surprise I recently encountered this in my holiday reading - a compilation of Poirot short stories.

Ever so fond of Mrs Oldfield Nurse was, and ever so distressed when she died, and Beatrice always said as how Nurse Harrison knew something about it because she turned right round against the doctor afterwards and she wouldn’t of done that unless there was something wrong, would she?’ 

Agatha Christie - The Lernean Hydra (1939)

So not recent after all. This is not Poirot speaking of course. Presumably it's Aggie's way of indicating an education not out of the top drawer.

Incidentally, I think David Suchet's moustache in the TV series is not quite as large or forbidding as it should be.


Sam Vega said...

It grates? As someone who used to work in Further Education, let me tell you it used to grate like a rusty old industrial size cheese-grater from Granny's kitchen.

The amazing thing is that it wasn't random. It could hardly be counted as an error. They all did it, unerringly.

Mark Wadsworth said...

What SV says, only add "atomic powered" to the grater bit.

Anonymous said...

I quite like listening to colloquial conversation - revealing rather than grating. Cannot help thinking of David Suchet training to walk in the Poirot manner by clenching a halfpenny in his bottom. And the moustache is all wrong.

Demetrius said...

Given the period the moustache should of been a much bigger and more splendid one. He would of had one but the costume department only had one size.

A K Haart said...

Sam and Mark - perhaps being tolerably well-spoken is no longer seen as one of life's advantages. I'm surprised people don't notice though, "would of" doesn't even make sense.

Roger and Demetrius - yes the moustache is worse that I suggest in the post. There are enough hints that it should be much bigger and far more majestic. The man was a dandy, not a fop.