Three varied cartoons fot the day: Rhymes With Orange, Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert.
Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category
On Facebook on the 4th, this charming story from Sally Thomason:
Back in about 1964, when I was in graduate school at Yale, I was moaning and groaning during one of our regular tea-time gatherings about a test I thought I’d blown in Warren Cowgill’s Indo-European class. Warren listened fairly patiently for a bit and then starting saying almost inaudibly, “damn damn damn damn damn damn.” I stopped complaining and asked him what on earth he was doing. “I’m praising you with faint damns,” he said. — Fast forward to today: Rich [Thomason, Sally's husband] just showed me p. 206 of a fantasy novel he’s reading, Point of Hopes, by Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett: “That Rathe seemed to think well of him, or at least to praise him with faint damns, was something of a reassurance…”. Probably the authors weren’t plagiarizing from Warren, because I know they weren’t in the Linguistics tea room on the third floor of the Hall of Graduate Studies in 1964. (Probably Warren wasn’t the first person to have said this either, of course. But this is only the second time I’ve heard it.)
There’s a lot of fun in there — I’m fond of Michisota, in particular, and the idea that Pierce’s fake ID has him as female — but here I’m looking at the rhyming slang idiom commit to the bit, which was new to me (hey, I’m an old man). From context, it seems to convey something like ‘embrace whole-heartedly’. But I’d welcome comments from native speakers.
Today’s Rhymes With Orange, with a pun and an inter-comic reference:
The pun is easy: lawn face / long face (based on the idiom have a long face ‘look sad’). Then there’s the cultural allusion to Swamp Thing.
Passed on by Ken Rudolph on Facebook, this image from the Bro My God website:
As Chris Ambidge noted on Facebook, by the each is something of a surprise, though it turns out that there are other examples in commercial settings. Normally you’d expect just each or apiece, or per item. At least one site suggests that it might be a calque on an idiom in another language.
Today’s Zippy, with an invisible Zippy haunting Eureka CA (plus a note on the idiom bucket list):
It started with tv commercials for home security systems, for example:
No-show alerts to make sure your kids get home safe (SafeMart systems)
SafeWatch VideoView allows you to keep an eye on who is knocking at your front door, watch over a vacation home, or make sure your kids are safe. (ADT systems)
These have the idiom make sure with a (that) Clause complement. But it turns out that there are two understandings of such examples:
[verifying] make sure (that) Clause: ‘verify that Clause is true’
[causative] make sure (that) Clause: ’cause it to come about that Clause is true’
The security systems intend the verifying reading — they provide a way to see if your kids are, in fact, safe(ly) at home — but of course they can’t ensure that this will be the case.