Have you ever noticed how people tend to turn a phrase? Some are old phrases that stand the test of time. Phrases like; “A stitch in time saves nine” or “A penny saved is a penny earned” are still common amongst people of a certain age. The younger generations just shake their heads and wonder what the older ones are talking about. This has been going on for centuries. Of course, times and sayings change by region.
I grew up hearing a lot of these old adages and bits of wisdom. I too, shook my head at these old lines and thought they were rather odd, but time and age have changed my mind. There really is some good advice in some of those sayings! Depending on how it is said, it can also be rather witty!
About a year ago, The Winnipeg Free Press published an article called “You Don’t Say”. It talked about the relevance of the old phrases and how they aren’t always complimentary but do paint a rather vivid picture if you stop and think about what was actually said.
It got me thinking about the phrases and more specifically about the ones that were used in my family and circle of friends. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for months. I made notes, listed some of my favourite phrases and asked family for some of theirs. Then I got busy with other things and forgot about it till a few days ago. Out of sight – out of mind?
Like so many others we used the standards:
• not the sharpest knife in the drawer
• not playing with a full deck
• one sandwich short of a picnic
• a village missing it's idiot
• elevator doesn't go to the top floor
• don’t cry over spilled milk
• a fool and his money are soon parted.
• Ignorance is bliss
However, after talking to several family members and friends, I have also realized that every family tends to have their own favourites or versions of the classics. Some are ones that are only used within their circle.
Now, my family may not be as colourful as some of the sayings that you hear from other regions such as parts of Europe, the Canadian Maritimes, some parts of the southern United States or within some cultural groups. Some meanings aren’t well understood outside of a region or tend to get lost in translation but there are a few from my family and friends that make you sit up and take notice!
Let me also say here that I don’t know where any of these originated – we just like the way these sound. More often than not they have more than one meaning – one obvious and one that you may have to think about. They also paint a rather interesting picture if you stop and think about them.
So, here are some of our favourites:
• “Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels.”
• “Two bats short of a belfry!”
• For someone who is a little slow on the uptake: “No bulb in the light house”
• “Stick a fork in me I’m done.” – this can have several meanings.
• “Like a fart in a wind storm.” – think about it!
• “As useless as a tit on a hen!” (Oh, doesn’t that sound helpful?)
• “Some fabric is so thin you could spit through it!”
• My grandmother always said this in regards to gossip; “Repeated stories tend to get embroidered.”
• An uncle said that some in our family drank “lighthouse tea”. When asked what that meant he said it was “blinking near water!”
• This one is also from the same uncle: “You buttered your bread now lay in it!”
• To someone who smelled nice: “You stink pretty.”
• One of my best friends favourite sayings is: “Suck it up buttercup!” In other words quit complaining and just do what needs to be done!
• In response to a loud belch: “That was well brought up. Why weren’t you?”
• In our family, when you say “Knock on wood.” You tap on your head or that of the person nearest you.
• I LOVE this bit of advice to a bride from an older, otherwise staid male family member – “Get a nightgown with fur on the bottom - it keeps your neck warm!”
Of all the sayings that are used in my family, there are three that I absolutely love and often use myself:
3) When someone is in a really crappy mood: “Who pissed in your porridge?” or “Who peed in your corn flakes?”
2) “I resemble that remark” I like this because it can be taken in so many different ways!
And the award for my favourite saying is: “Don't look at me in that tone of voice!” I absolutely love this phrase! It is the perfect line when people look at you in a certain way. You know exactly what they’d say and how they’d say it if they opened their mouth. It catches people off guard when they hear it. They will often rethink or even forget what it was they were thinking or going to say!
Ah, yes the power of the spoken word! We have to watch what and how we say things in so many aspects of life. Saying the wrong thing can get you in a heap of trouble and saying the right thing can really ease a situation. We can change things for better or worse with a simple phrase.
My own personal theory is this. "There is a little bit of a bitch or bastard in all of us. It is whether or not we choose to use that power for the good of other people!"
Hey, I saw that! Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!