intemperate tots

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joylit

New Member
chinese
Hi, I am reading the play The Private Lives by Noël Coward. There is a line "intemperate tots" I couldn't understand it. maybe you can help. Thanks:)
(background: a man and a woman are quarreling with each other, because of bad mood the woman complains that the man is having too much brandy-three glasses in the whole evening. they have following conversations:)

<< Excessive quotation deleted. Rule. >>

AMANDA: On the contrary, a child of two could get violently drunk on only one glass of brandy.

ELYOT: Very interesting. How about a child of four, and a child of six, and a child of nine?

AMANDA [turning her head away]: Oh do shut up.

ELYOT [witheringly]: We might get up a splendid little debate about that, you know, Intemperate Tots.
 
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  • Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Tot, usually tiny tot, is a very young child, but tot is also a measure of brandy or other spirits, so I think there may be a pun here, a play on words so beloved of the English, and Noël was a great wit. Intemperate: drinking more than a reasonable amount of alcoholic beverages, so Intemperate Tots = Alcoholic Infants.
     
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    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It is a a pun on the word tots, as it can apply to measures of spirits and to young children. They have been arguing about both.

    It might also be a pun on the word intemperate, as relating both to alcohol and bad temper.

    it thus offers four meanings, which can be summarised:
    bad tempered children
    drunken children
    bad tempered brandy
    drunken brandy

    As she says, it isn't THAT funny, but is pretty typical of the style Coward uses.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Or as Arrius says, it is WIT, not roll in the aisles comedy!
    Another typical example of Coward's wit, this time taken from the musical comedy "Private Lives" is the conversation between a pair of former lovers who meet in a hotel after many years of separation. It goes something like this:
    She: I heard you were in China. How was it?
    He: Very big, very big.
    She: And in Japan too. What was that like?
    He: Very small, very small.

    I would have difficulty in explaining why this is funny, but it is.
     

    joylit

    New Member
    chinese
    Dear all, thanks very much for your kind reply, they're very helpful. i'll take "alcoholic infants" or "drunken children." since the man say that we can have a debate about it, and i think the "intemperate tots" is a summary of the topic of the debate.

    Thanks again. you are so wonderful:)
     

    joylit

    New Member
    chinese
    Another typical example of Coward's wit, this time taken from the musical comedy "Private Lives" is the conversation between a pair of former lovers who meet in a hotel after many years of separation. It goes something like this:
    She: I heard you were in China. How was it?
    He: Very big, very big.
    She: And in Japan too. What was that like?
    He: Very small, very small.

    I would have difficulty in explaining why this is funny, but it is.
    somehow it make me think of the song Mad Dogs and Englishmen you mentioned. the song is so well-written, witty and sacastic. Thanks:)
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    who's Arrius? Actually i couldn't understand this line very much...:)
    Sorry.

    Arrius is one of us, I was referring to that person's post where the comedy was described as WIT. I had said it isn't very funny. Comedy is always a matter of opinion,and WIT is always a subtle type of humour.

    Roll in the aisles comedy is a phrase to describe the sort of comedy that makes an audience roar with laughter. I do not think audiences literally roll in the theatre's aisles, but that is the way we say it!

    I hope this is clearer for you now.
     

    joylit

    New Member
    chinese
    Sorry.

    Arrius is one of us, I was referring to that person's post where the comedy was described as WIT. I had said it isn't very funny. Comedy is always a matter of opinion,and WIT is always a subtle type of humour.

    Roll in the aisles comedy is a phrase to describe the sort of comedy that makes an audience roar with laughter. I do not think audiences literally roll in the theatre's aisles, but that is the way we say it!

    I hope this is clearer for you now.
    haha, I see. thank you for teaching me another pharase, Arrius. In fact, in Chinese we have nearly the same phrase equal to "roll in the aisles",which is “笑到打滚”(it's so funny that even make a person roll in the ground)what do you mean by saying comedy is always a matter of opinion then? maybe we can discuss it in private message if you want. Thanks again for your clear explanation:)
     
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