'till I sit down/'till I write down

Discussion in 'English Only' started by oskhen, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. oskhen

    oskhen Senior Member

    Hamar, Norway

    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.
  2. entangledbank

    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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