"Horace is not but sixteen yet" from the Lottery

bbggoma

New Member
Korean
I came across this phrase "Horace is not but sixteen yet,” while reading a short novel, the Lottery, by Shirley Jackson.
Does this mean Horace is not sixteen, or he is only sixteen and hasn't reached a certain age?
Thanks in advance.
 
  • bbggoma

    New Member
    Korean
    That's what I thought first, but my co-teacher (I am an English teacher in Korea) taught her students otherwise. I just want be able to give a proper and clear explanation instead of saying it is what it is.
    By the way, thanks for the quick reply.
     

    Szkot

    Senior Member
    UK English
    To me the more common phrase is 'nought but', or 'nothing but', meaning nothing except:

    nought but grief an' pain (R. Burns) - nothing except grief and pain
    You ain't nothing but a hound-dog (Leiber and Stoller) - you are just a hound-dog
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, Bbggoma. :)

    I guess this was from dialog in the book, yes? It's a very old-fashioned way of saying, "Horace is only sixteen years old". We wouldn't put it that way in contemporary English.
     

    bbggoma

    New Member
    Korean
    Thanks. I guess my co-teacher was wrong. (which means I am right :)) Not only that, I now have an explanation to give!
     

    bbggoma

    New Member
    Korean
    Yes. This was the first time I came across this type of phrase. English's difficult - anyway, thanks for the reply!! This forum rocks! :thumbsup:
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I agree with Copyright. Not but", meaning "only", was commonly used in the Southern U.S. when I lived there. I think it was considered a little folksy or rustic.
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    Hi BBggoma! How are you in Korea? I bet it's nice there. Don't gloat and don't rub it in her face. No one likes a wise guy. Hehe.

    I read the dialogue right before and after:

    “Don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?” said Mr Summers. [...]
    “Horace is not but sixteen yet,” Mrs Dunbar said. “Guess I’ve got to fill in for the old man this year.”
    The Lottery, taken from: http://ajarnjohn.com/about-fluency/our-stories/the-lottery/

    You see, Horace has not reached adulthood (18 years) but rather is a teenager of sixteen years old.
     

    bbggoma

    New Member
    Korean
    haha You should come and see yourself. It's beautiful out here and you can have fun all day long.

    I'd better not tell her I told you so, but I am in this tricky position where responsibility to teach students the right thing might hurt someone else's pride. She is a proud woman.

    She taught her students that in the town of the novel, adulthood was regarded as 16, and Horace is not yet 16 (which is why he couldn't draw himself). I knew I was right, but just couldn't explain why. :)
     

    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Just for your information, we would not call a work like "The Lottery" a novel, but a "short story".
     

    bbggoma

    New Member
    Korean
    Thanks. That cleared up some of my confusion. The way English is spoken in different parts of the world and different contexts always gets me to doubt myself. :( Boy- English is like an onion! (It's a Korean expression which means something has multiple, different layers in it that it shows you a new side every time. )
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    Thanks bbggoma. Yes, I can definitely understand you want to tell your students correct information. I just would bring it up to her first before you teach the class. You don't want to be on her bad side.

    We have a similar expression in English about an onion, too. :)
     

    bbggoma

    New Member
    Korean
    It's amazing how many of similar expressions there are in differnt cultures that are so far apart. :) I guess that's what I will do. Thanks roxcyn.
     

    OED Loves Me Not

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Osaka
    We have a similar expression 'nobbut'.
    I know, and that Northern English word is often used by the male servant
    Joseph in Wuthering Heights.
    ‘There’s nobbut t’ missis; and shoo’ll not oppen ’t
    an ye mak’ yer flaysome dins till neeght.’
         (Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, Project Gutenberg)
         http://www.gutenberg.org/files/768/768-h/768-h.htm

    Here's a standard English rendering of the above:
    'There's nobody but the mistress, and she'll not open it for you
    if you make your frightening din [noise] till night.'
         http://www.wuthering-heights.co.uk/josephs-speech.php
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The interesting thing about the phrase from The Lottery is "yet".
    He's not but sixteen yet. In standard English you can't say "He's only sixteen yet." - you would need to say "He's still only sixteen."
     
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