Talk:softly softly

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Etymology[edit]

I believe the etymology is not simple reduplication but rather an abbreviation of the faux-pidgin proverb "softly softly catchee monkey". (Of course, the faux-pidgin includes reduplication, but this occurs in the postulated pidgin rather than in Standard English.) The full form was popularised by Baden-Powell's The downfall of Prempeh (1896); he called it an Ashanti saying. It predates him:

I couldn't antedate the "catchee" form at Google books before Baden-Powell.

The abbreviated form appears in Kipling's Kim (1901); this commentary calls its origin a "Chinese proverb". Jnestorius (talk) 10:58, 6 May 2012 (UTC)