Friday 28 October 2011

A Churl on a Gentleman

For as long as I can remember I have known the old drinker's rhyme:

Beer and wine:
Feeling fine.
Wine and beer:
Oh dear.

There are even equivalents in other languages, although I can't now remember what they are. However, I did find a rather lovely alternative in Brewer's: Don't put a churl on a gentleman.

Churl is an old word for a fool, and before that it meant peasant, and before that, way back in the days of Old Norse when it was spelled karl, it just meant man. That's also where we get the names Carl, Charles, and (oddly given that it means man) Caroline.

Even more oddly, Charlemagne is a variant of Charles/Carl and because of that the Czech word for king is kral, the Polish is krol, and the Lithuanian is karalius. So a churl is, etymologically, both a man and a woman, a peasant and a king.

And, for what it's worth, I've always said:

Beer, wine and whisky:
Feeling frisky.

Would it be churlish to point out that this song is about an eleven year old?


  1. the German version is:
    Wein auf Bier, das rat ich Dir.
    Bier auf Wein, lass es sein.

  2. My girlfriend is called Caroline - i'm going to have some fun with this post......

    Laurie -

  3. Liquor before beer,
    In the clear.
    Beer before liquor,
    Never sicker.

  4. Makes me glad I don't drink very often.

  5. Liquor before beer, never fear
    Beer before liquor, never sicker

  6. 'Drink Canada Dry'
    Was the bollocks
    Of the wisest of philosophies.