He(Hagrid) seemed numb with shock at the verdict.

"S'all my fault. Got all tongue-tied. They was all sittin' there in black robes an' I kep' droppin' me notes and forgettin' all them dates yeh looked up fer me, Hermione. An' then Lucius Malfoy stood up an' said his bit, and the Committee jus' did exac'ly what he told 'em...."

Does "droppin' me notes" take its literal meaning here? (E.g. Hagrid kept dropping his notes on the ground.) I've looked it up, but it doesn't seem to be a normal collocation. Does it have a special meaning in this context?

  • I know of no special meaning for it. When I read it, I interpret it literally. – Jason Bassford Nov 25 '18 at 11:03
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    It is not a collocation at all. You can drop virtually anything that you can hold in your hand--car keys, wallet, notebook, sunglasses, toothbrush, pencil. Is it the word me (for "my") that is throwing you off the simple literal meaning here? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 25 '18 at 13:25
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    Aside from Hagrid's transliterated English West Country accent, the sentence is literal: "The absent-minded professor was always dropping his notes during his lectures, and so frequently wandered off topic." – Andrew Nov 25 '18 at 14:21
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo So, what's "notes" referring to? It could be the paper we make notes on or the information itself according to dictionaries. Does "drop my notes" here mean "keep going off the topic" or "literally dropping the paper they make notes on"? – dan Nov 25 '18 at 18:41
  • notes are sheets of paper or small cards with writing on them. The things written down are also called "notes", just as we can say "I'm going to tear up these crappy instructions and toss them in the trashcan" when we're trying to put some prefab furniture together. The word instructions refers to the paper and its contents. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 25 '18 at 21:04

The meaning is literal, but you have to forgive Hagrid for his non-standard grammar and West Country accent.

In something like standard, RP English:

It is all my fault. I got all tongue-tied. They were all sitting there in black robes, and I kept dropping my notes and forgetting all those dates that you looked up for me, Hermione.

Hagrid is defending Buckbeak in a sort of court of law. Hermione had written some notes for Hagrid to use. But Hagrid is rather clumsy and dropped the papers on which these notes were written on the floor, making him look foolish in front of the judges. Also because he dropped the notes, he can't find the information that was written on them, so he couldn't argue his case.

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It's literal.

Hagrid had a number of points he wanted to address in front of the committee, so he wrote them down in his notes. When it actually came time to use those notes, he kept dropping them, probably because he was nervous and upset. Imagine someone struggling to get their point across, then dropping their notes, then spending thirty seconds getting their notes off the floor. Repeat this several times. The end result was he did a bad job with his presentation.

It's really not unusual for people to have notecards with notes on them when they're doing public speaking. In the public speaking class I took, we were advised to number our cards so that they could not get out of order. With the exception of two or three people who memorized their speech, everyone in my class used notecards.

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