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Live long and prosper…

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
The other day I was doing something and the way I was doing it just wasn't working. So being the determined person that I am, I said out loud, "Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat." My three-year-old who had been watching the whole ordeal looked at me with his big eyes and said, "What kitty, Mommy?"
OK, I can see why he would be a bit confused. I started thinking about all those little idioms we use in our daily language and how confusing it must be for a very literal child. For example, when my oldest was about three years old, our second child came along. It had been a trying day and she was being, well, a three-year-old. I was trying to nurse the baby and the older one kept acting up. In frustration I said, "I've had enough! You'd better straighten up and fly right!" She looked at me with the look of "Uh-oh, Mommy's mad. I better do what I'm told." She stood up as tall as she could and then with the innocence of childhood said, "But Mommy, I can't fly." Hubby almost fell down laughing. Talk about no help.
Think about it. If some of our sayings were taken literally, it could be quite disturbing. How about "cut your nose off to spite your face," "like a chicken with it's head cut off," or "off with his head!" Of course others would just be seriously confusing like, "early bird catches the worm" or "A frog in your throat."
Another interesting aspect is how new sayings are added. For example, the phrase "going postal" didn't come about until the 1990s when there were several shootings related to the post office. From WWII the phrase "Kilroy was here" became popular. Some sayings we can attribute to businesses like "finger lickin' good." For the phrase "I feel your pain," we can thank President Clinton. Politics have also given us "the buck stops here," "speak softly and carry a big stick," and "don't change horses in midstream." But let's not forget the wonderful influence of television, (as I seriously date myself here!) how about "valley talk." Remember the "gag me with a spoon," "fer sure, fer sure," "like–totally!" craze? I still cringe when I here those phrases.
However, phrases can be turned into a wonderful learning experience, especially with the help of the internet. It's fun to research the origin of some of the older phrases. Let's look at the phrase "as mad as a hatter." This phrase comes from when hatters, people who made hats, used mercury in the hat making process. Mercury is poisonous and affected their nervous system. Because of the tremors they experienced they were labeled as "mad."
The phrase "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" is also a good one for getting a glimpse of history. A more recent one would be "Houston, we have a problem." In this case, it's also interesting to find out that it's not exactly what was said.
How about, "a drop in the bucket?" Do you know where it comes from? It's from the Bible in Isaiah 40:15. Actually, quite a few of our phrase originate in the Bible. The phrases "a house divide against itself cannot stand," "a multitude of sins," "the blind leading the blind," and "eat, drink, and be merry" all originate from the Bible as well.
As I mentioned earlier, I use the internet to research phrases. I found the site http://www.phrases.org.uk/index.html to be the easiest one to use
However, this particular site it isn't extremely comprehensive; so when it didn't have the phrase I needed I just used a search engine and looked for just that phrase. "May the force be with you" and may you "live long and prosper."
If you have a question or comment for Mom’s Corner, please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496,Hartselle, AL 35640, or e-mail: moms-corner@juno.net

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