“Take that!” hollers Yosemite Sam, a Roman legionnaire, banging a caged lion on the head for roaring when he didn’t expect it. “Maybe that’ll larn ya to keep yer big mouth shut!” But Bugs is right next to the crank that raises the bars. Oops! “Ah hates rabbits,” says Sam.
I can just imagine Friz Freleng and his madcap animators, in a room full of cigar smoke and the smell of stale coffee, saying, “Hey, let’s put Sam in ancient Rome, and Nero tells him he’s got to get a victim to start the games, and Bugs Bunny is the only victim left,” and so on, and part of the great joke is that Sam speaks Hillbilly and Bugs speaks upper-class Chicago. We immediately register Hillbilly as hokey, under-schooled, ragged round the edges, as when Dizzy Dean drove every schoolmarm in America wild with his Ozark Mountains slang – “That there fella slud right under the tag!” But you know what? Slud is pretty close to the Old English past tense of slide: slad; closer to it and older than our slid is. …
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