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Black Bart - Outlaw P o 8
November 29, 2005 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I've labored long and hard for bread,
For honor and for riches
But on my corns too long you've tread,
You fine-haired sons-of-bitches.
Black Bart, the P o 8.
posted by Joey Michaels (14 comments total)

 
So nobody knows what "the P o 8" meant?
posted by goatdog at 9:46 AM on November 29, 2005


I'll take a wild stab and say "poet."
posted by keswick at 9:50 AM on November 29, 2005


Yep, it's a phonetic spelling of "poet."

You can see more of Black Bart's Po8try at the Wells Fargo Museum in San Francisco.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:09 AM on November 29, 2005


I figured it meant "Pieces of Eight", since Black Bart was a modern-day pirate.
posted by Plutor at 10:17 AM on November 29, 2005


Yep, it's a phonetic spelling of "poet." - fandango_matt

While I don't doubt that you are correct about the intention here, I wonder who pronounces the number "eight" so that it rhymes with poet. Alternately, I wonder who pronounces "poet" so that it rhymes with "hate".
posted by raedyn at 10:18 AM on November 29, 2005


Bolles was apparently decently educated and quite well spoken. I suspect he spelled it "P o 8" in much the same way some of us would use "l33t" - specifically to create an impression of poor intellect and, perhaps, throw the Wade Fargo detectives off his trail.

My favorite story about Bolles (retold at the first link) is that when he was released from prison, he was asked if he was going to commit more crimes, to which he replied "no, gentlemen, I am through with crime." He was then asked if he was going to write more poetry, to which he said something like "Now didn't you hear me say that I am through with crime?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:28 AM on November 29, 2005


Sorry, that would be "retold at the fourth link."
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:29 AM on November 29, 2005


I did some work for WF a while back and I'd read and heard "Po8" was l33t-type-speak. I think actually it's not "po-ATE", but "po-eht" where "eight" is pronounced like "et", which, if I'm not mistaken, was and still is a common pronounciation, and would fit the regional dialects with which Boles was familiar.

But I really like the "pieces of eight" theory.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:41 AM on November 29, 2005


Boo. I totally thought it was pieces of eight, but then again, I'm a real pirate.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:54 AM on November 29, 2005


"eight" is pronounced like "et", which, if I'm not mistaken, was and still is a common pronounciation, and would fit the regional dialects with which Boles was familiar. - fandango_matt

What regional dialect says "et"? I'm not familiar with this pronounciation of the number 8.
/curious
posted by raedyn at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2005


I think "eht" is either a southern or midwestern thing, but I'm not sure--kind of like "pin" or "inkpin" for "pen."
posted by fandango_matt at 11:38 AM on November 29, 2005


I've heard [eht] for the past tense of "to eat", but never for the number (even though both are in theory pronounced [ayt].
posted by notsnot at 12:42 PM on November 29, 2005


pin" or "inkpin" for "pen." - fandango_matt

I had forgotten that one. *shudder*
posted by raedyn at 1:13 PM on November 29, 2005


I agree with notsnot, except that there's no "theory" about it—/et/ is just as old as /eyt/, and has perfectly good historical lineage. OED:
The accentuation of OE. MSS. shows that this verb differed, as in Goth. and ON., from other verbs of the same conjugation in having a long vowel in the pa[st] tense sing. ǽt, whence the mod. eat (i:t); but a form æt, with short vowel, must also have existed, as is proved by the ME. form at, mod. ate. The pronunc. (εt) is commonly associated with the written form ate, but perh. belongs rather to eat, with shortened vowel after analogy of wk. vbs. read, lead, etc.; cf. dial. (bεt) pa. tense of beat.
Nice post, by the way!
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on November 29, 2005


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