What does this quote from Shakespeare mean? [on hold]

The above comment doesn't seem to be useful, and it seems to be a defensive remark (indeed, something the commenter admits to in another comment that they made, which was deleted after I raised a flag on it.

@jimsug O, I will for thy bravery hail praise upon thee,/ for an animadversion thou lodgeth 'gainst StoneyB./ — user8153

I'm not sure who handled the moderator attention flags on this, and I'm sure you had a good reason for it, but can I ask why the flag was declined?

As far as I can tell, this user seems to have taken it rather personally that their question was closed, first prompting them to attack me personally (apparently by likening me to members of the US Congress - apparently that's an insult, and I don't follow US politics closely enough to know precisely why), then they've decided to do the same, but in EME.

I try to shy away from these kinds of petty squabbles - I think I've succeeded in responding constructively, most of the time. But to let this comment stand is to implicitly condone such comments.

2 Answers 2


I must apologize to the Community. This squall was brought on by my ill-advised snottery towards one of the Help Center Canons: through my clumsiness this was taken by jimsug and, apparently, the questioner as a personal attack on jimsug—and that seems to have prompted the questioner to an excited expression (now deleted) of his own resentment.

I agree that the Comment in question is of no use to anybody. My own comments, for that matter, are now of no use to anybody; I have deleted them. And in fact the entire comment thread might be deleted; but the temperate observations by snailboat and J.R. are worth preserving, perhaps in another context.

  • I've deleted my posts which aren't directly relevant to the question content; I'm happy for you to delete the apologies :)
    – jimsug
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 0:44
  • Obviously it's easy enough to locate the full context of any line from Shakespeare, but in principle the OP should have provided it. I find it ironic that @jimsun commented you cannot assume that the issue is lack of context in this particular case, since without that context it would be all but impossible to realise that the referent of he is someone else (Ajax) rather than the actual subject of the utterance (no/any man). I personally don't support the observations by snailboat/J.R. - they both endorse asking about archaisms on ELL, which I think are unhelpful here. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 13:50
  • @Fumble I'm not a student of Shakespeare, so I didn't realise that that was the case. I was under the impression that the refernt of he was, indeed, no/any man. If the issue was lack of context, then the OP should have provided context. If it was the archaisms, (which the sentence structure and morphology would certainly warrant), then they should have said so. In both cases, it was off-topic. EME is probably borderline, since native speakers should be able to understand it. By not providing the context, it's likely that the OP frustrated attempts to parse the sentence ex situ.
    – jimsug
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 14:38
  • @jimsug: I think it's ridiculous to suggest Early Middle English (1100-1300) might be "borderline" for ELL. That's before even Chaucer, who to most native speakers today is effectively "unintelligible". Personally I would just about allow Victorian English as "borderline On Topic" (if and only if the usage being queried has some relevance to current English). If you really disagree my position, I think we need to thrash that out in a dedicated meta question. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 14:52
  • @FumbleFingers I'm pretty sure jimsug means Early Modern English, which is often abbreviated 'EME' in the literature. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 14:58
  • 1
    @StoneyB: Fair enough. But I still don't accept that "EME" as On Topic here, except insofar as it relates to current English. The fact that some native speakers have a reasonable grasp of Shakespearean vocabulary/syntax/etc. doesn't imply that ELL learners should have such aspirations. If they do, they should probably be asking questions on ELU rather than here. Neither site is well served by a tiny minority saying "ELL should include archaisms only relevant to scholars", or "ELU should accept questions about any aspect of English, however basic". Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 15:16
  • Yes, I was referring to Early Modern English (I was running short on comment space). I think that, the question here would have been on-topic if the OP had asked about the referents. As it was, I wasn't sure whether it was the referents, or the archaic morphology, or the unusual syntax, or all three. It might've been too broad, and the OP, rather than editing the question, chose to call me liberal. Is that a bad thing in US politics, too? I have enough trouble staying current with, and interested in, Australian politics, let alone those of the US.
    – jimsug
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 15:24
  • I think there's also a good case for keeping the English that we serve here fairly contemporary, but Early Modern English is quoted often enough and is referenced enough in modern literature and language that it might be acceptable.
    – jimsug
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 15:30
  • 3
    @jimsug Yes. Shakespeare and the AV are part of what Matt calls 'everyday English', and formal curricula abroad often call on students to read older works: I noticed a while back that prep courses for the German Abitur advises students to be familiar with a Shakespeare play and three or four 18th and 19th century novels, &c. And we need to keep in mind that some of our users are in or hoping to get into US and UK universities, where even the most commercially-minded business major has to have some familiarity with older lit - even if it's only the US Constitution. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 15:50

The post was about a comment from Shakespeare. Much of the hullabaloo in the comments digressed to a discussion about whether or not questions about "Olde English" (my name for it) belong on ELL. During that discussion (much of it deleted now), someone added a Shakespearesque comment that was eventually flagged.

I decided to leave it in. It looked like a humorous and harmless way of saying that you were "brave" to take a position against one of our more esteemed users. I didn't think it said anything overly negative toward either party – it came across as a mere observation, yet cleverly written in the style being debated.

In short, I liked the comment, I appreciated the comment, and the comment probably took some time and effort to compose. I didn't see any harm in letting it stand.

to let this comment stand is to implicitly condone such comments

Sorry, I'm not going to condemn clever comments. I leave quite a few of them myself. We must always be careful about overdoing it (after all, there can be too much of a good thing), but I didn't think this comment needed to be deleted.

  • Fair enough - I guess I accept your explanation, but I don't agree that it was intended in good spirit - you'll recall another comment on StoneyB's answer that explicitly labelled it a defense, though without that I can see how it'd be read as humourous. I don't think this comment is useful, or adds anything to the question, but as mentioned, I'll have to accept your determination on it.
    – jimsug
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 23:33
  • @jimsug - I agree that it's a bit of a judgment call. Your question was a fair one, and I thought you deserved an answer.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 8:04

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