Thanks to Maryann for hosting today’s stop on Peg’s Blog Crawl. Yesterday’s post, “Idioms”, is at http://wwwgeraldineevanscom.blogspot.com
If your toaster stopped working, you would probably go out and get a new one. When a phrase stops working, we’re stuck with it. We can’t send out a memo, “Stop using that one, folks.” So we’re left with phrases that confuse rather than explain. Sometimes there just isn’t a good replacement for an expression, and until a better one emerges, we use the old, broken one.
How many times do we actually “roll down” the window of our cars these days? It isn’t a rolling action on modern cars. Should we say, “She lowered the window”? How about “She pressed the lower button”? Neither sounds quite right, even if we admit that rolling doesn’t happen.
Do we “dial” the telephone? No, but what is a good alternative term for what we do? “Punched in the number” sounds rather violent. “Keyed in” might be a better term, but I think there will soon be something else, something more descriptive and creative.
We no longer put words and images “on tape”, either. I suppose “recorded” still works, since the dictionary says it is “to register for reading or future reference”.
Then there are phrases we use that are inconsistent with similar phrases, making ESL speakers confused. We have deer season, bear season, turkey season…and tourist season. We have wheat crackers, saltine crackers, rye crackers…and animal crackers.
Many terms just plain don’t make sense. We have Grape Nuts Cereal, which is neither grapes nor nuts. We have guinea pigs, which are neither pigs nor from Guinea. Your nose runs but your feet smell (not yours, but somebody’s). We park on the driveway and drive on the parkway. You might want to be known as a wise man but certainly not as a wise guy. You fill out a form by filling it in, your house burns us as it burns down. People recite at a play and play at a recital, and they send shipments by truck and cargo by ship.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same thing? Fat chance that you can explain that one!
The Poser: Name 3 books/series where the author shares recipes with readers.
The Prizes-Weekly prizes (your choice of THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY in e- or print format) drawn from the names of those who comment on the blogs as we go. Comment once/day, but the first commenter each day gets entered twice in Saturday’s drawing!
The Pitch: THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, First in The Dead Detective Mysteries, paranormal mystery. Tori Van Camp wakes in a stateroom on a cruise ship with no memory of booking a cruise, but she does have a vivid recollection of being shot in the chest. Determined to find out what happened and why, Tori enlists the help of an odd detective named Seamus. Together they embark on an investigation like nothing she’s ever experienced. Death is all around her, and unless they act quickly, two people she cares about are prime candidates for murder. Read more about this book and the author at http://pegherring.com or buy the book at http://www.ll-publications.com/deaddetectiveagency.html.
The Perpetrator: Peg Herring writes historical and contemporary mysteries. She loves everything about publishing, even editing (most days). Peg’s historical series, The Simon and Elizabeth Mysteries, debuted in 2010 to great reviews. The second in the series will be available in November from Five Star.
The Pathway: The next entry, “Being Precise” and the answers/comments to the Poser will be at http://crimespace.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=pegfish
3 thoughts on “Welcome Peg Herring”
When I was involved with the Adult Literacy League in Orlando, we read our prospective tutors an essay including the examples you mentioned — and a lot more. Our language is a difficult one for non English speakers to understand, to be sure.
Romance with a Twist–of Mystery
I believe English is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn. With good reason.
Love the title: The Dead Detective Agency!
Call me weird, I think about Eccentric Phrases like this all the time. Great post!
The CRITTER Project and Naked Without A Pen