You pays your money, you takes your choice/chance

mashburn

Member
Chinese
<< Thread topic - You pays your money, you takes your choice >>

I happened to hear this idiom,can anybody put the meaning of this idiom across to me and give me some concrete example?
 
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  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'You pays your money and you takes your choice' is the usual form for this saying.
    It does involve a change of register from standard English, but we use it consciously all the same.

    It has various different senses depending on context, but the idea always is that there is a person entitled to make the choice in the given situation.
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    I've always heard that it is the answer to the question posed by a visitor to Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum, who asked his guide, in front of an exhibit: "But which of them is the Duke of Wellington and which is his horse?".

    In other words, it means don't be a smart-aleck.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I've always heard that it is the answer to the question posed by a visitor to Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum, who asked his guide, in front of an exhibit: "But which of them is the Duke of Wellington and which is his horse?".
    Believe that and you'll believe anything. ;) Various versions appear on the internet. Here's a plausible one (from everything2.com)
    The truth is however is that the saying is British in origin and was first recorded in the January 1846 edition of Punch. That edition of the magazine featured a cartoon entitled 'The Ministerial Crisis' ....... It is generally believed that Punch was simply appropriating what was at the time a common "stallholder's cry to customers", which some accounts attribute to the Cockney dialect, although that is all intelligent supposition rather than plain fact.
    The New York Times seems to agree (here)

    PS. cross-posted with pob14
     
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    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Believe that and you'll believe anything. ;)

    Sigmund Freud not only believed it, he analysed it on pages 86-87 of his joke book.:D

    As your everything2 site retells it:
    Freud's treatise on Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious quotes a 19th century witticism.
    A guide at an art gallery (in London, I think) routinely remarks to a group of visitors:
    "And here, ladies and gentlemen, you see the Duke of Wellington with his horse, Copenhagen".
    A wit chips in with the comment: "Which one's the Duke?"
    Arthur Wellesley was noted for the unusual size and length of his nose - he was called Conky by his troops.

    To which the guide responds: "Sir Madam? - you pay your money and you take your choice."

    Not in Freud's quote with the demotic -s as usually since cited, it's true, but entirely suggestive of a wry, slightly bored, economically cynical view of the two


    :
     

    TheRealMcCoy

    Banned
    Portuguese-Portugal
    Hi! "You pays your money and you takes your chance." This idiom is a bit odd in terms
    of grammar. Any explanation for it?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Actually, the expression is 'You pays your money and you takes your choice' and the grammar is discussed in that thread. The actual title of the thread is slightly erroneous.
     
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    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I've merged TheRealMcCoy's thread with one of the existing threads on this topic. I hope you find the answers - both those you've received, TRM, and the ones from the earlier thread - helpful. If you still have questions, you're welcome to add them here.

    JustKate
    English Only moderator
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    As far as I know, you can say it both ways.
    Sorry, I thought you were asking about an idiom. You can say "You pays your money and you takes your chance." as much as you like, but that isn't an idiom, so it's not only ungrammatical, but also lacks any real meaning.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    As to why this survives in its ungrammatical form: There's no explanation except that people likely enjoy the affected "folksy" tone, errors and all.

    There are more than a few ungrammatical set phrases extant (e.g. "how do you like them apples," "them's the breaks," "), probably surviving in part because they are used in casual settings and thus the humor/color are of more value to the speaker than being grammatically correct in that context.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    < ---- >The idiom is "You pays your money and you takes your choice."

    "You pays your money and you takes your chance." is gibberish. The whole point of the saying is in posts #7 and #12
    It has various different senses depending on context, but the idea always is that there is a person entitled to make the choice in the given situation.
    I've always understood it to mean 'it makes no difference (to me) whether you choose A or B.'.

    < ---- > Response to deleted comment removed. Cagey, moderator.
     
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    TheRealMcCoy

    Banned
    Portuguese-Portugal
    < ---- > The idiom is "You pays your money and you takes your choice."

    "You pays your money and you takes your chance." is gibberish. The whole point of the saying is in posts #7 and #12

    I'm quoting from Longman American Idioms Dictionary for the entry, You pays your money and you takes your chances/choice.


    Edit: Quotation updated. Cagey, moderator.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm quoting from Longman American Idioms Dictionary for the entry, You pay your money and you takes your chances/choice.
    Have you copied that correctly? The idiom started life as a British English Idiom. I can understand that Longman has published a bowdlerised version, but that doesn't make it an idiom, or give it a meaning.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Cambridge Idioms Dictionary gives a slightly different interpretation for the two versions. It sounds reasonable to me:

    You pays your money (and you takes your chances).
    (informal)
    Something that you say which means if you do something that involves risk you must accept that you cannot control the result. The hotels are supposed to have star ratings, but in fact it's a case of you pays your money and you takes your chances.


    You pays your money (and you takes your choice).
    (informal)
    Something that you say which means each person has to make their own decisions in a situation, because no decision is more correct than any other You can go by motorway, which is quicker, or take the coast road, which is prettier. You pays your money and you takes your choice.


    Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 200tp://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/You+pays+your+money
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think the original was "If you pays your money you have another think coming:eek:" meaning that the OP's idiom started out as one thing (the "original") and others have purloined it...
     

    TheRealMcCoy

    Banned
    Portuguese-Portugal
    Have you copied that correctly? The idiom started life as a British English Idiom. I can understand that Longman has published a bowdlerised version, but that doesn't make it an idiom, or give it a meaning.

    What do you mean with "bowdlerised"? I quote:"Used to say that is impossible to say which of two or more choices is the right one." < --- >



    < Off-topic comment removed. Cagey, moderator. >
     
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    TheRealMcCoy

    Banned
    Portuguese-Portugal
    As to why this survives in its ungrammatical form: There's no explanation except that people likely enjoy the affected "folksy" tone, errors and all.

    There are more than a few ungrammatical set phrases extant (e.g. "how do you like them apples," "them's the breaks," "), probably surviving in part because they are used in casual settings and thus the humor/color are of more value to the speaker than being grammatically correct in that context.

    Thanks, bibliolept.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    What do you mean with "bowdlerised"? I quote:"Used to say that is impossible to say which of two or more choices is the right one." < --- >
    < ---- > I was asking if you had transcribed "You pay your money and you takes your chances/choice." correctly, since I would not have expected even Longman to have printed that.

    I must admit to misusing "bowdlerise" in my post. The correct meaning, which is in the Wordreference dictionary, is
    to remove passages or words regarded as indecent from (a play, novel, etc); expurgate
    I was referring to the change of "choice" to "chance", but there was no indecency there, so I should not have used "bowdlerised".

    Going back to your question "This idiom is a bit odd in terms of grammar. Any explanation for it?", I hope that you have understood that it is intended to represent vernacular English. We wouldn't call it "folksy" in BE, but I agree with bibliolept.


    < --- > Response to deleted comment removed. Cagey, moderator.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    What is the "-s" here? Singular ending?
    Singular and plural. It's a fairly common dialect variant, which I think is most often used as a historical present tense (So I says to him, "where's the money?" and 'e gives it me, so we both goes off to the pub). I associate it with London and Essex, but it may be more widespread.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Interesting. But it must be broader than historical present and pretty much parallel the regular simple present (eg "sez you" and above). How did the "-s" get to be there in the first place?
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Singular and plural. It's a fairly common dialect variant, which I think is most often used as a historical present tense (So I says to him, "where's the money?" and 'e gives it me, so we both goes off to the pub). I associate it with London and Essex, but it may be more widespread.
    It is definitely more widespread. I'm not even sure I can identify a region here in the US where it is particularly common. My husband's closest friend, born and bred in Indiana, always uses this verb form ("I says," "he gives," etc.) when he's relating an anecdote.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    [Edited to add summary at poster's request. Cagey, moderator. ]

    My google search has just revealed something that could have a bearing on this discussion. In their Introduction to Sociolinguistics (2015) Ronald Wardhaugh and Janet Fuller refer to a study that was carried out in the late 1970s in Reading. Among other things it showed that the extension of the -s affix to other persons (I knows, we has) indicated an individual's belonging to the "tough" vernacular culture and gave him "covert prestige". On the linguistics side, this extension was much more likely to be encountered with verbs like "go", "kill" or "learn" and did not appear when in the complement clause the verb was marked for tense ("I forget what the place is called" vs "I just lets her beat me"). For more details see:

    https://books.google.ru/books?id=0b0WBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA187&lpg=PA187&dq=vernacular+s+ending&source=bl&ots=n5kkU3LyZc&sig=Ui11Bx6YjE6x-5IH_Sxikq0Yugs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDgQ6AEwBmoVChMI4q3Dla3AyAIVTFwsCh0pvwR7#v=onepage&q=vernacular s ending&f=false
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think the original was "If you pays your money you have another think coming:eek:" meaning that the OP's idiom started out as one thing (the "original") and others have purloined it...
    Rather than edit that, I will add the Ngrams that show the chance(s) versions (combined) are far less common, much younger and non-existent in BrE - (and this was vigorously confirmed :D by Andygc).

    (standard caveat about how Google assigns English variants)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just wanted to add that the generalised application of the -s affix for the present-tense form can still be heard in south-west England, and also in northern England.

    In some varieties, predominantly those in the south west of England, but also parts of northern England, -s is applied across the verbal paradigm, and is not restricted to third-person singular contexts, as in (1) ...
    1. We eats there most Sundays
    (Andy Kirkpatrick, The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes, p 39)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    As exemplified by another commonly quoted cartoon from Punch (i've always imagined this old man using a West COuntry accent:D)

    (Cartoon featuring the vicar's wife talking to a rustic old man laid up by an injured foot.)
    • Vicar's wife: Now that you can't get about and are not able to read, how do you manage to occupy the time?
      Rustic man: Well, mum, sometimes I sits and thinks and then again I just sits.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Just wanted to add that the generalised application of the -s affix for the present-tense form can still be heard in south-west England,
    Yes, but it seems to be fading away. I haven't been much aware of it. By the way:
    Punch+9.jpg
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The confusion between the second and third person singular is still common in London, e.g.:

    'e don't know what 'e's talkin' about (He doesn't know what he's talking about).
    You wasn't lookin' where you was goin', was you (You weren't looking where you were going, were you).
     
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