Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Cac Dúirt mo sheanathair (Shit my grandfather said).



Not sure if I've ever mentioned this, but good Lord above, I love folksy talk. You know what I mean—phrases and slogans and sayings that we incessantly bandy about, yet we've nary a clue how or where they originated. So hey, just for a little icebreaker, see if you can spot the idiom in the following sentence:

Shirley, still fuming at John following his potluck mishap, gave him the cold shoulder as they ascended the stairs from the musty church basement.

"Cold shoulder" is defined as "behaving toward someone in a way that is not at all friendly." But wow, let's back up a little. Any idea where it came from? After all, what could such ostracism possibly have to do with a chilly scapula?

Like many of the folk idioms you're about to read, no one is certain as to the derivation of "cold shoulder," but the prevailing explanation is that the phrase stems from a particular way to serve food to an unwanted guest. In this case, cold shoulder refers to serving of an inferior cut of meat, namely a cold shoulder of mutton to an uninvited guest, as opposed to serving a hot meal or roast that was fresh out of the oven to an invitee, which was customary at the time.

Now I feel bad that we had cold mutton at Christmas. Damn Pinterest.

Anyway, how well versed are you in the phraseology of yore, clichés that were employed way back before people had access to antibiotics, massive chicken breasts or snap stories? Let's find out. Below are a few statements, mostly tweets, made by President Voldemorange. One point will be awarded for each correct answer, with extra credit given for those who can cite the saying's derivation.

“I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.” 
In this sentence, Trump shows that he's:
a) Eating the sparrow to spare the newt.
b) Massaging the flitterfly.
c) A Vicar of Bray
The correct answer is c). A person who changes their beliefs and principles to stay popular with people above them is a Vicar of Bray. It's roots can be traced to the 16th century cleric and vicar of Bray, Berkshire, Simon Aleyn (1540–1588), who lived in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth.

“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
In this situation, Trump is:
a) Choking on his piccolo.
b) Getting his dickie in a rimple.
c) All mouth and no trousers.
The correct answer is c). As defined by the the Dictionary of Catchphrases American and British, the term denotes "noisy and worthless stuff applied to a loud-mouthed, blustering fellow." I might modify this phrase for Trump to say "all mouth and necktie and not an inch of trou'."

“I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” 
Speaking of nasty. This means, in Trump's mind:
a) He's on the pull for some lurgy rumpy-pumpy.
b) He's been jack-tickling for some kinnish gnidge for a nae a dozen donkey years.
c) Bob's your uncle... and apparently also your boyfriend.
The correct answer is c). "Bob's your uncle" translates to "there you go," or, "simple as that," which makes it all the creepier that he's so sure about it.

“I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me—and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” 
In this phrase, Trump is attempting to avoid:
a) Blustering like a tadbilly's maiden.
b Wrestling a dingleberry from a snollygoster.
c) Doing a Devon Loch.
The correct answer is c). If someone does a Devon Loch, they suddenly fail when everybody expects them to succeed or simply crumble at the very last minute when they were almost winning.

Devon Loch was a racehorse who fell on the final straight while leading the 1956 Grand National.

"Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage..."
In this situation, Trump demonstrates that he's:
a) Begging a buttercrock from a middle wife.
b) Nibbling a keen one.
c) Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The correct answer is c). "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater," while sounding highly immoral in present-day context (unless you're baby's a jerk), can trace its origins to 16th century Germany, and literally means rejecting the essential along with the inessential.

Some claim the phrase originates from a time when the whole household shared the same bath water. The head of household (Lord) would bathe first, followed by the men, then the Lady and the women, then the children, followed lastly by the baby. The water would be so black from dirt that a baby could be accidentally "tossed out with the bathwater".

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
As to the popular vote, Trump was claiming:
a) He had pecked squirrel bits and hollered, "Nee!"
b) He had taken the broad road to Billingsgate.
c) He had gotten enough votes to cobble dogs with.
The correct answer is c). If a cobbler has enough leather to cobble an animal with four feet, then hey, guy's got either a surplus of leather or he's jumped aboard the lucrative bandwagon of designer dog shoes. Also, he's lying, or "kissing the preacher's armpit (sorry, made-up)."

"Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" 
To the majority of Americans who didn't vote for him, Trump comes across as:
a) A billet of wiener in a tube steak pageant.
b) Pissing around the wally shed.
c) A silly sausage.
The correct answer is c). I heard a British person say it on the bus a couple of weeks ago.

How'd you do? I knew you'd nail most of these, but if you didn't, it's okay, they're pretty tough. Or, as someone in old Ireland might say, "No boher sur take her handy."

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