Sunday, 19 October 2014

Five Stupid Sayings (Part 2)

Five more English expressions which may seem a little weird to foreign speakers...

A few months ago I highlighted a few weird English sayings which seem perfectly normal to me as an English person, but when you analyse them they perhaps might seem strange to speakers of other languages.  Here's another collection of unusual words and expressions found in the English language...

1) "Egg and soldiers."

Soldiers and soldiers.  Can you spot the difference?
On my latest travels I met an English girl and a French girl, and one day the English girl ordered 'egg and soldiers' for breakfast.  The French girl responded with a blank look and questioned what 'soldiers' were, so the English girl then explained that the toast was cut into 'soldiers'.  The French girl quite sensibly asked why we called them soldiers and the English girl replied, "Because they look like soldiers."  However, when you think about it they look nothing like soldiers.  They look like rectangular pieces of toast.

If you look at the side by side comparison pictured in the photo, I'm sure you'll agree that there's very little resembance at all.

2) "Pins and needles."

Also on my travels I met a Dutch girl who one evening had pins and needles in her foot.  She didn't know the English expression, but I quickly realised that she meant pins and needles.  This prompted her to ask, "Why do you call it pins and needles?"  I explained, "Because it feels like pins and needles sticking in your foot."  The Dutch girl then raised a very valid question, "How do English people know what it feels like to have loads of pins and needles stuck into their foot?"  It was a fair point, and I couldn't really answer her question.

Incidentally, the Dutch equivalent of 'pins and needles' is a 'lazy foot', which is a cool saying, but I'm not convinced it makes any more sense than the English expression.

3) "Cock-a-doodle-do!"

A cockerel making allegedly typical cockerel noises.
(According to the English language.)
To me as an English person 'Cock-a-doodle-do!' has always seemed a very accurate way to describe the noise that a cockerel makes when it wakes everyone up in the morning.

However, when you analyse it, I don't know where the 'doodle' bit comes from because I've certainly never heard a cockerel say, "Doodle!"  In fact it's actually a totally ridiculous thought.  A cockerel shouting, "Doodle! Doodle!"

'Cock-a-doodle-do!'  is still a cool word though, even if it uses a generous helping of artistic licence in its description of the noise a cockerel actually makes.

4) "Morning"

As a greeting to be used in the morning this one seemingly makes perfect sense.  As does the greeting, "Afternoon," used in the afternoon, and the greeting, "Evening," used in the evening.

But why should we greet each other by mentioning the time of day?  It's no different from greeting someone on a Saturday by saying, "Saturday," or saying "October" to someone in October, and yet if you said those greetings to someone it would sound ridiculous and they wouldn't know what you were on about.  Even after you explained the logic of your greeting they'd still think you'd gone a bit mad.  So why is it normal to say, "Morning," to somone as a greeting in the morning?

I realise that "Morning," is actually an abbreviation of 'good morning' but would saying, "Good Saturday," or "Good October," make it seem any more sensible?

5) "If you love someone, set them free."

"If you love someone, don't buy them an engagement ring."
...English logic.
This last one is courtesy of Alan Partridge and as Alan points out, the phrase 'If you love someone, set them free,' makes no sense at all.  It's a bit like saying, "If you like beefburgers, don't eat them," or "If you hate London, go and live there."

As it turned out Alan used this saying to justify dumping his Ukranian girlfriend when he adapted it to say, "If you don't love someone and don't want to hang around with them any more, set them free."  He may have been a bit callous, but you can't argue that Alan's version of the saying is more logical and makes much more sense.

Anyway, the saying, 'If you love someone, set them free,' is totally illogical and surely, 'If you love someone, marry them,' would make more sense?

That's it for now, but if you want to read a few more weird English sayings, then you can find my original round-up at the following link:
Five Stupid Sayings

This post was written by Charles Fudgmeuffin.  Not the original sayings obviously (Charles didn't invent the English language or anything like that), but the general commentary regarding these sayings were written by Charles Fudgemuffin.  Charles is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available from Payhip, Amazon and various online ebook stores.

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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.