Yishai Tobin: "Till vs Until: A Sign-Oriented Approach"


(14) Scarpio happening in, caught him at it and held a dagger to Fidelman's ribs — who fruitlessly pleaded they could both make a living until the padrone appeared. "A hunchback is straight only in his grave." Angelo slapped Fedelman's face till it turned red and the tears flowed freely. (Bernard Malamud, Pictures of Fidelman. An Exhibition, p.70).

(15) And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face: But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off until he came out. (Exodus 34: 33,34).

(16) "I nearly know how to have babies but we don't do it till next term." (Frances aged 7).
"You can't talk about babies being made until you are in the 4th form." (Davina aged 10). (Newman, The Facts of Love).

(17) Thus it was not until we arrived in the street itself that she knew where we were. Clapping her hands with pleasure, and running on before me for a short distance, my little acquaintance stopped at a door, and remaining on the step till I came up, knocked at it when I joined her. (Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop, p.5).

(18) Then, he would walk with Mrs. Maylie and Rose, and hear them talk of books; or perhaps sit near them, in some shady place and listen whilst the young lady read: which he could have done until it grew too dark to see the letters. Then, he had his own lesson for the next day to prepare; and at this, he would work hard, in a little room which looked into the garden, till evening came slowly on, when the ladies would walk out again, and he with them. (Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, p.293).

(19) "Not till you let me go — not till you let me go — Never — never!" screamed the girl. Sikes looked on, for a minute, watching his opportunity and suddenly pinioning her hands dragged her, struggling and wrestling with him by the way, into a small room adjoining, where he sat himself on a bench, and thrusting her into a chair, held her down by force. She struggled and implored by turns until twelve o'clock had struck, and then, wearied and exhausted, ceased to contest the point any further. (Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, p.417).

I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through
Did you know how lost I was
Until I found you
You're so fine and your mine
I'll be yours till the end of time (Madonna, "Like A Virgin")

C. Multiple Uses of the Same Form

Examples (21)-(24) illustrate the multiple use of these forms in a single passage. Examples (21)-(22) are taken from instructional texts: a cookbook and a guide for parents where the marked form until is repeated to indicate different significant stages in a larger process where each stage indicates a goal or a consequential step in the development giving a series of resultative messages:

(21) To cook the dish: Heat the oil in a wok or heavy frying pan until it is almost smoking. Add the garlic and then the chicken and ginger, and stir fry until the chicken loses its shiny appearance, after about three minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir fry until the vegetables are tender. (Evelyn Rose (The New Jewish Cuisine, p.149) (Result: change of state oriented).

(22) Early Rising: With a baby who greets her parents with infuriating alertness and energy, ready and eager to start every day when even the roosters are still snoring, there's no hope of further rest until night falls once more. It's possible your baby is getting up earlier than she should because she's going to bed too early. Try putting her to bed ten minutes later each night until you've gradually postponed her bedtime an hour or more. Keep baby up later during the day. Some early risers are ready to go back to sleep in an hour or two. To discourage this postpone her return to the crib by ten minutes more each morning until she's napping an hour or so later, which may eventually help her to extend her night's sleep. All these efforts may, unfortunately, be in vain. Some babies just need less total sleep than others and if yours turns out to be one of them you may have to rise and shine early until she's old enough to get up and make her own breakfast. Until then, turning in earlier yourselves and sharing the predawn burden by taking turns getting up with your baby, may be the best survival technique. (Eisenberg, Murkoff, Hathaway, What to expect the first year, p. 89) (Result: change of state oriented).

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AS/SA Nº 8, Article 2 : Page 6 / 10

© 1999, Applied Semiotics / Sémiotique appliquée

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