This is from a book, Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir

But, in this context:

Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose ever written, whoever told them to tinker with the Volgate Latin? They'll burn for it, you mark my words.

So just to confirm as I believe the saying in bold, means, "They'll be burned for it". Is this because it's in old English? Or is there something else I am missing?


3 Answers 3


I believe it is meant literally "they will burn for it" and refers indirectly to ultimately burning in the fires of hell as a result of the transgression.

My guess is the speaker meant it tongue in cheek (sarcastic 'kindly inform', informal 'loused', mild 'tinker', don't usually add up to eternal damnation for changing a latin phrase), but you're the one with the full text.

I doubt it has anything to do with Old English which is a very different and sometimes indecipherable older form of English.

  • 2
    æþeling aérgod unblíðe sæt· þolode ðrýðswýð
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 19:14

"Burn" in modern English is one of a number of verbs that can be used transitively to describe the doing of an action and intransitively to describe the undergoing of that action. One can burn wood: wood burns. The manager opens the store at 10; the store opens at 10. "This nonstick pan cleans easily." "This book reads like a Greek tragedy."


Burning at the stake was a punishment that this phrase might refer to.

If caught, and found guilty, they would burn for it (the crime).

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