Learn English Language skills through our AI based learning portal with the support of our Academic Experts!

Learn more


     The officer in charge reported to mother. ‘No sign of nobody, lady,’ he said. ‘Musta got away – whatt’d he like?’ ‘There were two or three of them,’ mother said, ‘whooping and carrying on slamming doors.’ ‘Funny,’ said the cop. ‘All ya windows and door was locked on the inside tight as a tick.’


The mother received a report from the officer in charge. He explained that there weren't any signs of intruders. He added that he must have escaped.  The officer asked the mother how the burglar looked.
The officer in charge reports to the mother
The mother, recalling the slamming of the doors that awakened her, declared that there were two or three of them. She concluded that there was more than one intruder because she had heard two or more doors shut simultaneously. As you would remember, Herman and the narrator had shut their doors in their agitated state.
The cop found the mother's statement hard to believe, for he said, 'funny, all your windows and doors were locked tight as a tick on the inside.' He suspected that there wasn’t a break-in because the doors and windows were locked from the inside.
The phrase “tight as a tick” is a simile. The officer compares the locked doors and windows to a tick that sticks onto ones’ skin. The figure of speech helps us understand that the doors and windows were appropriately secured, ruling out the possibility that someone had got out of the house.
A tick 

The paragraph is unique, and even intriguing, because of the language of the officer in charge. It is easy to observe that the English spoken by the officer is different from the English used by the rest of the characters. The officer seems to be quite liberal with his use of English. He defies English grammar and standard pronunciation.
The officer speaks in non-standard English that varies depending on where it is spoken. It contains a lot of slang (extremely informal versions of standard terms) specific to a particular place or set of people and hence may not be understood or used by everyone. It is a colloquial variant of standard English.
Let us look into his English and its standard counterparts:
The Officer's English
Standard Version
No sign of nobody, lady
No sign of anybody, lady
A sentence shouldn't contain a double negative. Eg; "No" and "Nobody"
Musta got away.
Must have got away.
While the standard contraction of "have" is "'ve" (as in I've), it is uncommon and informal to contract it to "a".
Whatt’d he like?
What was he like?
The exact translation of the question is "What did he like?". However, the statement is grammatically incorrect.
All ya windows and door was locked on the inside tight as a tick.
All your windows and doors were locked on the inside tight as a tick.
Non-standard contraction (ya) and incorrect grammar (door, was).
Meanings of difficult words:
Sl. No
ReportTo inform or update
Musta(a colloquial slang for) Must have
Whatt'd(a colloquial slang for) What did
WhoopTo behave (or to enjoy) oneself  in a noisy way
Ya(a colloquial slang for) Your
TickA parasitic arachnid that attaches itself to the skin of a terrestrial vertebrate from which it sucks blood
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). English Standard-10. The Night the Ghost Got In - James Grover Thurber (pg. 30 - 33). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.