Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

Talking to the hand

November 29, 2017

From Dennis Lewis on Facebook recently:

(#1)

The evolution of English: when this episode of “Match Game” was filmed 40 odd years ago, these were the top three responses to complete the phrase “talk to…” Today, of course, the $500 response would be “the hand.”

The idiom talk to the hand seems to have become current only in the 1990s, so in the 1970s nobody would have been likely to suggest the hand as the blank-filler on the Match Game.

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??That is aliens for you.

November 21, 2017

From Mike Pope on Facebook a few days ago, this excerpt from Ian Frazier’s “New York’s Majestic Passage in the Sky: Revamping the Bayonne Bridge to make space for megaships” in the 11/13/17 New Yorker:

(#1)

Mike wrote:

I can’t decide here whether this is weird. In the New Yorker, a sentence where I think I’d expect a contraction (“That’s xxx for you!”). Is this an editor bending the idiom to house style, or is this a not untypical variant?

Two things: the acceptability of the example (at best, it merits the stigma ?? of great dubiousness); and the circumstances that might have given rise to ??That is aliens for you (not at all clear, but advice on style and usage might be part of the story).

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Wet words

November 15, 2017

In a Law & Order episode (S8 E15), a character explains that he’s going inside his house because he has to tap a kid — short for the idiom tap a/my kidney ‘urinate’, with kidney clipped to kid.

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Food rebellion

November 12, 2017

Yesterday’s posting “Rice pudding in the land of quilted steel” focused on diner rice pudding, but the Wikipedia article covers quite a large territory, including rice puddings in different cultures around the world and rice pudding in popular culture. On the latter front, there’s a humorous poem “Rice Pudding” by A.A. Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame) that Benita Bendon Campbell has reminded me of. The poem takes off from the Anglo-American tradition of rice pudding as plain food for children or invalids — and shows young Mary Jane’s rebellion against the tradition: “She won’t eat her dinner – rice pudding again”.

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Can you say “cat”? Can you spell “cat”?

November 4, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips:

(#1) Can you say … “cat”… um, “sheepshank”?

The Mister Rogers trope Can you say X? ‘Say X’ (in a pedagogical tone); idiomatic go/get (all) X on Y

(#2) Can you spell “cat”?

Spanish ‘yes’ vs. English /si/ C (the letter of the alphabet); linguistic and natural mean; and more.

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Revisiting 9: ¡-ola!

October 22, 2017

A comment on the vulgar noun crapola in yesterday’s posting “A portmantriple”, from David Preston:

[cited by AZ] “-ola, a suffix used humorously to extend standard words.”

Wasn’t the original ‘ola’ the shoe-polish brand Shinola? Then it became humorous with the phrase “know shit from Shinola.”

Actually, playful -ola didn’t start with Shinola, though Shinola appeared fairly early in the history.

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Household gifts

October 21, 2017

Assembled in a group photo, three pleasingly thoughtful household gifts:

(#1) A penguin tea towel and a purple plant mister flanked by two hand-blown flared glasses

The tea towel with penguin slogan (the penguin is one of my totem animals) brought back from the New England Aquarium (in Boston) for me by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky. The purple plant mister given to me by Kim Darnell (who found them on-line) to mist my mini-phal (which likes high humidity, but not wet roots). The flared glasses blown by Amanda Walker, who made them for me so I could grasp them firmly with my damaged right hand..

A little festival of household furnishings and English N + N compounds as well: tea towel, distantly related to tea (referring to the hot drink made from the leaves of the tea plant); the synthetic AGT compound plant mister; the synthetic PSP compound hand-blown; and the compound punty mark, the (totally opaque) name Amanda gave to the glassy scars at the bottom of the glasses.

And, oh yes, the idiom in the tea towel slogan. Let’s start with that.

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Political wagyu

October 13, 2017

The gustatory-political text for today:

Rage against the media is political Wagyu for the president’s base. (NYT, “[REDACTED]’s Attacks on the Press: Telling Escalation From Empty Threats” by Michael M. Grynbaum on 10/12/17 on-line)

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Swords up on Friday the 13th

October 13, 2017

Today is the baleful day Friday the 13th, and in the Halloween season to boot, so the Michael Lucas gay porn film company has packaged a $13 membership offer featuring Friday the 13th‘s Jason, in his hockey mask, brandishing a tremendous meat-sword. A cropped version:

(#1)

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Noodling with formulaic language

October 6, 2017

Today is National Noodle Day. Yes, an event fabricated by people in the food indusry to showcase their products and sell them, on a date no doubt chosen only because it hadn’t already been claimed by any other food. But noodles are delicious, they’re multicultural, and they’re fun.

I celebrated the occasion at lunch with some porcini mushroom and truffle triangoli (stuffed ravioli, but triangular rather than square) from Trader Joe’s, with arrabiatta sauce (a spicy tomato sauce). Pasta in English food talk for Italian food, but  noodles in English food talk for Chinese (and other East Asian and Southeast Asian) food — so today they’re noodles to me. (I recommend a broadminded view on what counts as noodles.)

I also recommend that we adopt a symbolic figure for the occasion, something like the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Halloween pumpkins and witches, Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, the New Year baby, and so on. I suggest the Flying Spaghetti Monster, with his noodly appendages.

But first let’s get down to some recent noodling with formulaic expressions in the comics: One Big Happy (an idiom), Rhymes With Orange (a frequent collocation or an idiom, depending on who you read), and Mother Goose and Grimm (a proverb):

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