now, apart from a lot of biblical and other thoughts that came to my mind i was struck, when i read the following passage in p.g. wodehouse "very good, jeeves!" (1930):
"well, teuf-teuf," i said moodily and withdrew.
in french "teuf-teuf" means the sound of a train (töff-töff in my native german). it seems to indicate some kind of good-bye.
is this a phrase common to english native speakers?
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UP-DATE: majolika provided me with the following information:
Psmith, in appearance and, very broadly, manner, is the Knut. The Knut was not a Wodehouse invention. He was a fashion-eddy of late Edwardianism, though his line goes back to the dandy and the fop of earlier centuries. Captain Good, rn, in Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, wore a guttapercha collar, a monocle, matching hat and jacket and impeccable other kit in the African bush, to the amusement of his companions and Rider Haggard's readers, but not to the lessening of his own dignity. Punch was making jokes about the Knut at the same time as Wodehouse was using him as part of Psmith.
The Knut was an amiable person. You could laugh at him kindly. He cultivated a 'blah' manner and vocabulary. Some of Psmith's vocabulary was from early Knut sources. 'Oojah-cum-spiff' and 'Rannygazoo', both Knut locutions, were used by Psmith first, and later by Bertie Wooster. When Bertie Wooster used 'Oojah-cum-spiff' and 'Rannygazoo' in the 1920s, they sounded, to the reader too young to have known the Knut language, like personal Wodehouse/Wooster fabrications. In the Wodehouse play Good Morning, Bill of which the novel Dr Sally is virtually a transcript, Lord Tidmouth, a Knut, says goodbye in six different ways: 'Bung-ho', 'Teuf-teuf', 'Tinkerty-tonk', 'Toodle-oo', 'Poo-boop-a-doop' and 'Honk-honk'.
Knut language, like any other generic slang, substituted for the sake of substitution. It was the manner of the Knut to call a man a 'cove' or a 'stout sportsman'. In The Lighter Side of School Life Ian Hay, discussing Dean Farrar's Eric, says 'No schoolboy ever called lighted candles "superfluous abundance of nocturnal illumination".' Psmith could have. Psmith, instead of 'tea' says 'a cup of the steaming'. Psmith, first in Wodehouse, plays variations on the already several-times-removed-from-reality imagist phrase 'in the soup'. Psmith refers to 'consomme splashing about the ankles' and someone being 'knee-deep in the bouillon'. He always prefers the orotund to the curt. Instead of 'shoot a goal' he says 'push the bulb into the meshes beyond the uprights'. 'Archaeology will brook no divided allegiance from her devotees', and 'the dream of my youth and aspirations of my riper years' - these are pleasant enough suggestions of pulpit pomp. In the crowded school study they would certainly be given in a parody voice, adding a specific victim to the general parody. The headmaster or the padre would be the local wax figure for the group to stick their verbal pins into.
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Personally I always read it as "Moshe Moshe -> baptize baptize -> St.Patrick St.Patrick", sort of a fast forward lesson in ecclesiastical history;)