'till I sit down/'till I write down


Senior Member

Could anyone please help me make sense of the grammar in the two last lines of the following verse:

She went upstairs to go to bed
And calling to her mother said
"Give me a chair 'till I sit down
And a pen and ink 'till I write down"

It's from a version of an old English folk song called The Butcher Boy (or "Tarrytown"). The complete lyrics may be found here: http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/tommy_makem/the_butcher_boy-lyrics-451040.html

Now, I understand the meaning, I suppose, but the sentences look pretty odd to me. Any help would be much appreciated.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    In Scotland and the North of England till is much more widely used, often corresponding to to in the rest of the English-speaking world, including for purpose: a chair to sit down in, a pen to write with. Think of it here as "so that" or "in order to" or some such.
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