dolly

negala

Senior Member
Italian
Hello! I found a word which I cannot understand. It is " dolly ".
The book is Memoirs of a London doll by Richard Henry Horne, first published in 1846.
A boy and a little girl give the carcass of a little monkey in exchange for a wooden doll to a Jew clothes-man (we are in 19th century). Since the boy is an organ-grinder, he and her sister, whose name is Brigitta, begin wandering through London until they arrive in front of the Monument. Here the narrator says:
"we did not play long, as Brigitta got frightened; it [the column] looked so high she was afraid it would tumble down and spoil dolly".
What does "dolly" mean? Could it just mean "doll" ? But if so, why do we not have "the" or "her" in front of it? Besides, it woul be a little senseless: if the Monument tumbled down, it would crush all of them, not just the doll.
As said by italtrav, " dolly " is a proper noun. But if so, why is the letter "d" not capitalized? Besides, in the book there is not a previous passage in which Brigitta names the doll.
Thanks for any help.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    Yes. And being so young she is very protective towards her beloved "dolly" yet too naive to understand, as you say, that she herself would be harmed if the column were to fall.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Dolly' is another word (usually used by children) for 'doll'. It could also be the name that Brigitta gave to her doll. You are right in saying that if this is the case, it should be capitalised - and I think that here it should in fact be capitalised, and that there has been an error or typo.


    Regarding the Monument falling down, seen through the eyes of a child, her main worry would be that it might 'spoil' Dolly. She wouldn't necessarily understand the extent of the damage it would cause should it happen in reality. The deliberate choice of the word 'spoil' does, I think, help to put the worry in the mind of the girl. She would think of 'spoiling' Dolly, rather than, 'crushing us all to death'.


    Cross-posted with Franco-Filly - whose suggestions I think might be better than mine, after all.
     

    negala

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Yes. And being so young she is very protective towards her beloved "dolly" yet too naive to understand, as you say, that she herself would be harmed if the column were to fall.
    Thank you, Franco-filly. But if "dolly" just means "doll", why is there not "the" or "her" in front of the word?
     

    negala

    Senior Member
    Italian
    'Dolly' is another word (usually used by children) for 'doll'. It could also be the name that Brigitta gave to her doll. You are right in saying that if this is the case, it should be capitalised - and I think that here it should in fact be capitalised, and that there has been an error or typo.


    Regarding the Monument falling down, seen through the eyes of a child, her main worry would be that it might 'spoil' Dolly. She wouldn't necessarily understand the extent of the damage it would cause should it happen in reality. The deliberate choice of the word 'spoil' does, I think, help to put the worry in the mind of the girl. She would think of 'spoiling' Dolly, rather than, 'crushing us all to death'.


    Cross-posted with Franco-Filly - whose suggestions I think might be better than mine, after all.

    Thank you, heypresto. So "dolly" could be the name of the doll. But what I cannot understand is that there is not a previous passage in the book in which Brigitta names the wooden doll. Why did the author omit it?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Because dolly is a generic pet-name for dolls: all children call their dolls dolly/dollies. It's not so much a name like Dorothy or Christopher: it's just another word for 'doll' (which happens to be a woman's name as well:eek:)

    This is my doll ~ her name is Dorothy, but I call her Dolly for short.
    =
    This is my dolly Dolly. Say hello to dolly/Dolly.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank you, Franco-filly. But if "dolly" just means "doll", why is there not "the" or "her" in front of the word?
    Very young children often miss out articles, negala. According to this article, that happens in other languages too, not just English.

    The effect is to create a sort of pet-name which is somewhere half-way between a common noun and a proper noun.

    EDIT: I think I'm saying the same thing as ewie, just in different words:).
     

    negala

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Very young children often miss out articles, negala. According to this article, that happens in other languages too, not just English.

    The effect is to create a sort of pet-name which is somewhere half-way between a common noun and a proper noun.

    EDIT: I think I'm saying the same thing as ewie, just in different words:).
    Thank you Loob. However it is not the little girl speaking: "we did not play long, as Brigitta got frightened; it [the column] looked so high she was afraid it would tumble down and spoil dolly".

    They are the narrator's words, that is the doll herself.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...
    The effect is to create a sort of pet-name which is somewhere half-way between a common noun and a proper noun.
    ...
    That is exactly what I would have said if I hadn't been beaten to it. It's a generic name that is being used to identify a known object. The author is using language in a way that a small child (and most native English speakers) would recognise.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A number of personalities around the home occupy a peculiar grammatical middle ground, or a dual function, between common nouns and proper nouns. The following are often used without articles:
    - nurse, nanny
    - mum, mother, grandmother
    - dad, father, granddad, grandfather
    - cook, and apparently now
    - dolly.
    I suppose that when used without the article they really ought to have a capital letter.

    Loob (etc) may be right in suggesting that the phenomenon originates in a childish confusion between name and role. On the other hand, such blurring is not exclusive to children: think of the many surnames that originate in professions.

    These earlier threads discuss this phenomenon:
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1164813
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1195645
     
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    negala

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you to everyone! You were very helpful :)

    I have just posted a thread for "dolly" in the Italian-English forum because I am looking for how " dolly " could be translated into Italian in order to obtain a similar pet-name.

    Thank you again !
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    A number of personalities around the home occupy a peculiar grammatical middle ground, or a dual function, between common nouns and proper nouns.
    I just came across a perfect example of this in a 19th-century short story. Confirmed old maid Miss Henderson has just married her long-lost sweetheart, who turned up unexpectedly with his little daughter:
    The house does not look so prim as it used to do. The yard is redolent with many fragrant flowers; the front door is half open, revealing a little girl playing with a kitten.
    "Hetty?" says a matronly lady, "you have got the ball of yarn all over the floor - what would your father say if he should see it?"
    "Never mind, mother, it was only kitty that did it."
    (Source: Miss Henderson's Thanksgiving Day, Horatio Alger)

    Just thought I'd mention it.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    A nice analogy with Dolly, as Kitty is also simultaneously a kitten and the shortened form of the name Katherine. Dolly is a doll and also a shortened version of the name Dorothy.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have thought of one usage like this that is not "around the home" (my post #14). We exceptionally use the word Counsel without an article to refer to a barrister or barristers. I suppose that senior politicians civil servants now look to Counsel when facing big decisions as they once looked to Nurse, Cook or Mother.
     
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