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  • Hi Lyn  

    Must be because I'm from Birmingham but our saying is "As queers as a box of frogs" 

    Nothing to do with the gay community but just that if any body presented you with a box of frogs we say it would be a bit queer, silly, strange etc ?. 

    Isn't local dialect enlightening  

  • Thick as 2 short planks - I've always liked that one but no idea of it's origin.

  • B3B3 Posts: 15,505

    Silly as a box of lights has always puzzled me - but not enough to Google itimage

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,990
    philippa smith2 says:

    In a more modern context, we say someone has trumped someone - was there a Trump before that well loved figure presently in the White House ?  

    See original post

    That usage is from playing cards - 'trumps' are the suit that beats all cards of any other suit in whist, bridge, euchre and other related games. I've no idea why they are called 'trumps' though - possibly a corruption of 'triumph' or the like?

    white (albino) elephants were apparently considered super holy in some eastern countries back in the day, so had to be kept in luxury and not worked. One of the Thai kings used to give an albino elephant as a gift to any of his subjects that had displeased him because keeping one normally bankrupted the keeper.

    English is a very acquisitive language and the reach of the British Empire brought very diverse languages and cultures into common experience. Most languages have animal sayings and similes, and English, which admires picturesque linguistic usage, has adopted and adapted many of them. So probably it does have more because it has everyone else's - like the Thai white elephant - as well as it's own gift horses whose teeth should not be examined - just take the nag and be grateful for a free horse 

    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,837

    As long as it's not a one trick pony.

    Raining cats and dogs; swing a cat (which is actually a whip called the cat o' 9 tails and not a pussycat); ants in your pants; the birds and the bees; catnap, cat got your tongue.

    Lots of cat expressions.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for the Trump thing Raisingirl  obvious when you say -don't know why I didn't think of that other than I am not a card player.  No excuse tho.

    I agree that the English language is acquisitive and without going in to too much detail, you have partly answered my original question.  Apart from nothing better to do, the statement I was querying was from an expert ( say no more ) - the English language uses these terms far more in modern parlance than other languages. It just set me thinking - true or not ?? 

    I have enough problems trying to translate some of our more peculiar sayings to my French and Spanish friends - never sounds the same somehowimage

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,837

    Well, the French have other cats to whip meaning other fish to fry; a cat in the throat when we have a frog; call a cat a cat when we call a spade a spade (or as, one old friend used to say, an f'ing shovel when things were bad) ; get on like cat and dog for people who don't get on at all - not as many cat expressions as English then.

    They also switch from cock to donkey - change subjects; memory of an elephant like English; they talk about hens having teeth when we think of pigs flying and someone who walks silently goes at wolf pace.

    As with English they have a scapegoat but he might also be a stuffed turkey.   When they swallow their pride they swallow a viper and if they're a bit mad, instead of bats in the belfry they have a spider on the ceiling.  When they're happy, Larry doesn't get a mention - they're happy as a fish in water.

    Lots more I expect and I can't help with Spanish or any other languages.

    Last edited: 11 January 2018 22:05:35

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,990
    Obelixx says:

    they talk about hens having teeth when we think of pigs flying

    See original post

    'as rare as hen's teeth' is a fairly common English expression - quite possibly translated and adopted from the French. 

    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • Hells Bells ( where did that come from apart from Andy Hamilton ) - you have all come up with such interesting stuff and I've enjoyed the responses.  Thanks to all who have participated.  I still can't pretend to go up against the "expert" but I've learned/ been reminded of a lot this evening.image

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,837

    No idea.   Some think it may be a reference to early industrialisation in the USA when the day's hours were signaled by the factory bell for start of work, lunch and end of day.

    Others think the complete expression is hell's bells and cockleshells which makes it more likely to be a British saying.

    A couple more for you - I'll be a monkey's uncle and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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