And as for staying tea, I can't hear of it; for there's this dairymaid, now she knows she's to be married, turned Michaelmas, she'd as lief pour the new milk into the pig-trough as into the pans. (http://www.literaturepage.com/read/silas-marner-158.html)

Could you explain the use of "turned." I think it should be "When it turns Michaelmas."

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    +1, that's a really interesting usage! Your interpretation seems correct: "turned" in that usage looks like it should be equivalent in meaning to "when it turns." It reminds me of the similar (but much more common expression) come [a certain day] which means "when [a certain day] has come." Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 5:08
  • "Come Tuesday, someone should have answered your question" :) Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 5:09
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    This is highly irregular English. I'm quite surprised something this odd sounding is only 160-ish years old. It's so hard for me to understand I'd expect it to be at least 500 years old. It's not worth learning English from.
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


The language of many of the characters in this book is difficult, because they speak in a dialect which is not entirely real (it is a fictionalized Yorkshire / Northern English).

What the speaker means here is: "Now that the dairymaid knows that she's going to be married by Michaelmas, she's as likely to pour the new milk in the pig trough as into the pans."

Michaelmas is is a Christian holiday celebrated in September. The dairy maid is excited about her marriage and the speaker expects her to not perform well at her duties because she is distracted by her excitement. She might, for example, mistakenly feed the fresh milk to the pigs instead of saving it for the household.

This is not standard English speech you will hear in modern SAE or RP.

  • 1
    No - BadZen claimed that the dialect was 'not entirely real', but as 'George Eliot' grew up in Warwickshire, presumably the speech patterns resemble those she heard in real life. Turned Michaelmas would not be used today but, as Quack E. Duck says, come Michaelmas might be. Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 10:46
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    @MichaelHarvey - Well, dammit, come Christmas then! The meaning of Michaelmas isn't relevant to the meaning of turned [date]. Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 15:00
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    @KateBunting - it puts me in mind of Tom Forrest on The Archers saying that something-or-other would happen 'come Lady Day'. That ages me, I daresay. Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 15:44
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    Also compare "gone" in British English: "Has it already gone midnight?."
    – BadZen
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 16:03
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    The short form most commonly used on this site for American English is "AmE" in contrast with "BrE" for the other side of the pond. I mention this purely FYI, without any recommendation or endorsement attached.
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 7:25

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