Where Did the Phrase "Goody Two-Shoes" Come From?

iStock.com/Oleh_photographer
iStock.com/Oleh_photographer

“Goody Two-Shoes” was a real person—or at least, a real fictional character. It was the nickname of the title character in a nursery tale called The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, published anonymously around 1765 by John Newbery. (Newbery is sometimes called “The Father of Children's Literature" because he was the first to make the genre profitable.)

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes revolves around a poor orphan named Margery Meanwell, whose virtuous farmer father is ruined before his death by a pair of villains called Graspall and Gripe. Margery is so poor she has only one shoe, but a rich relative of the local clergyman takes pity on her and buys her a second one. Margery is so excited by her gift that she runs around exclaiming, "Two shoes, ma'am, two shoes!", or something to that effect, to everyone she meets. In the story, she eventually becomes a schoolteacher and marries a rich man, using her wealth to help the poor. The story was in keeping with the 18th and 19th century taste for gratingly virtuous heroes and heroines in kids’ books and became a huge bestseller, reprinted over and over in various forms.

But the author of the tale—some say it was Newbery himself—wasn't the first to use the phrase “Goody Two Shoes.” As the linguist Michael Quinion notes, it also appears in a 1694 poem by Charles Cotton, "A Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque," as a term for a bad-tempered housewife: “Why, what then, Goody two-shoes, what if it be? / Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle, quoth he.”

Though we think of the term today as referring to someone who is smug about being good, Quinion says that implication is only from about the 1930s. Originally, it was more about class. "Goody" was originally a polite form of address for poor married women, a shortening of "goodwife." (The male equivalent was "goodman.") That usage goes back to at least the 1550s, and it’s most likely how people would have thought of the term when The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes was published. For a time, "goody two shoes" was also depreciative term for a lower-class woman or a woman with lower-class tastes and manners (the male equivalent being "goodman two-shoes"). That term may predate the book, or arise from it—it’s not entirely clear which came first.

But the story definitely helped create the idea of a "goody" being someone who is always dutiful and well-behaved. Originally, that wasn’t always a bad thing (see the taste for gratingly virtuous heroines mentioned above). By the 1870s, there was another phrase, "goody goody," based on an early 19th century sense of "goody" as someone “characterized by inept manifestations of good or pious sentiment.” According to Quinion, the idea of the “goody goody” influenced our modern usage of the term “Goody Two Shoes.” When we use the phrase today, that’s the kind of "goody" we’re referring to. But if it wasn’t for little Margery Meanwell, we might not be saying it at all. 

Can You Ever Truly Lose Your Accent?

DGLimages, iStock via Getty Images
DGLimages, iStock via Getty Images

You may be able to pull off a Spanish accent when showing off your Antonio Banderas impression, but truly losing your native accent and replacing it with a new one is a lot harder to do. The way you speak now will likely stick with you for life.

According to Smithsonian, our accent develops as early as 6 months old—accents being the pronunciation conventions of a language shaped by factors like region, culture, and class. When a baby is learning the words for nap and dad and play, they're also learning how to pronounce the sounds in those words from the people around them. Newborn brains are wired to recognize and learn languages just from being exposed to them. By the time babies start talking, they know the "right" pronunciations to use for their native language or languages.

As you get older, your innate understanding of foreign accents and languages gets weaker. If you're an English speaker raised in Boston, you may think that the way someone from Dallas speaks English sounds "wrong" without being able to articulate what it is that makes them sound different. This is why pulling off a convincing foreign accent can be so difficult, even if you've heard it many times before.

Around age 18, your ability to learn a second language takes a steep nosedive. The same may be true with your ability to speak in a new accent. If you immerse yourself in a foreign environment for long enough, you may pick up some ticks of the local accent, but totally adopting a non-native accent without making a conscious effort to maintain it is unlikely as an adult.

There is one exception to this rule, and that's Foreign Accent Syndrome. Following a head injury or stroke, some people have reported suddenly speaking in accents they didn't grow up using. The syndrome is incredibly rare, with only 100 people around the world having been diagnosed with it, and medical experts aren't sure why brain injuries cause it. But while patients may be pronouncing their words differently, they aren't exactly using foreign accents in the way most people think of them; the culprit may be subtle changes to muscle movements in the jaw, tongue, lips, and larynx that change the way patients pronounce certain vowels.

[h/t Smithsonian]

What Happened to the Physical Copy of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' Speech?

AFP, Getty Images
AFP, Getty Images

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech for the ages, delivering the oratorical masterpiece "I Have a Dream" to nearly 250,000 people.

When he was done, King stepped away from the podium, folded his speech, and found himself standing in front of George Raveling, a former Villanova basketball player who, along with his friend Warren Wilson, had been asked to provide extra security around Dr. King while he was speaking. "We were both tall, gangly guys," Raveling told TIME in 2003. "We didn't know what we were doing but we certainly made for a good appearance."

Moved by the speech, Raveling saw the folded papers in King’s hands and asked if he could have them. King gave the young volunteer the speech without hesitation, and that was that.

“At no time do I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we got this historic document,’” Raveling told Sports Illustrated in 2015. Not realizing he was holding what would become an important piece of history in his hands, Raveling went home and stuck the three sheets of paper into a Harry Truman biography for safekeeping. They sat there for nearly two decades while Raveling developed an impressive career coaching NCAA men’s basketball.

In 1984, he had recently taken over as the head coach at the University of Iowa and was chatting with Bob Denney of the Cedar Rapids Gazette when Denney brought up the March on Washington. That's when Raveling dropped the bomb: “You know, I’ve got a copy of that speech," he said, and dug it out of the Truman book. After writing an article about Raveling's connection, the reporter had the speech professionally framed for the coach.

Though he displayed the framed speech in his house for a few years, Raveling began to realize the value of the piece and moved it to a bank vault in Los Angeles. Though he has received offers for King’s speech—one collector wanted to purchase the speech for $3 million in 2014—Raveling has turned them all down. He has been in talks with various museums and universities and hopes to put the speech on display in the future, but for now, he cherishes having it in his possession.

“That to me is something I’ll always be able to look back and say I was there,” Raveling said in the original Cedar Rapids Gazette article. “And not only out there in that arena of people, but to be within touching distance of him. That’s like when you’re 80 or 90 years old you can look back and say ‘I was in touching distance of Abraham Lincoln when he made the Gettysburg Address.’"

“I have no idea why I even asked him for the speech,” Raveling, now CEO of Coaching for Success, has said. “But I’m sure glad that I did.”

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