Stuff of <s>thought</s> Language

Elsewhere, @Springer wrote…

<rambling mode=“on” />

Call me loopy, but I often wonder how some of the euphemisms we use got to be the way they are. Taking this one example, surely it’s the tunnel we’re giving up on/avoiding? I mean, the “hole” is easily avoided… non?

And, channeling my inner Wittgenstein, when does the “hole” cease to be (or have the properties of) a hole and turn into a tunnel? Or the other way, when is a tunnel nothing more than a hole?

This might need some setup for those emanating from west of the pond…

In the UK there is mint-flavored sweet (candy) called a polo – like a Lifesaver, but mint flavored.


There was a long-running commercial on UK TV using the phrase, “Polo, the mint with a hole”. As if having read my mind about holes/tunnels, a UK comedian once rephrased that phrase, “Polo, the hole with a mint wrapped around it.”

Give that comedian a medal, someone, for thinking outside the box sideways.

<rambling mode=“off” /> :wink:


Right. English is particularly flexible in this regard—why?—that would take too much bandwidth to give an explanans to that explanandum.

In teaching Advanced English to non-native speakers IDIOMATIC usage is central. Because it is become central to English articulate usage now.

Question: Does “A Mars a day helps you work rest and play” ???

Back to the world of TW—I increasingly feel that to form a decent Overview Of Her a few idioms might be felicioustly invented/used a bit more?

Over, and out.

Someone mentioned of late that “Down the Rabit hole” is from CS Lewis, Alice in Wonderland, A meme perhaps before we named them as such and had the Internet to propagate them books did that :nerd_face:

Remembering Memes comes from Genes and they evolve and reproduce within the collective mind of Humanity, some of course become extinct, although we find them as fossils in books.

I remember Swearing and Cursing evolves because once they no longer offend we look for new ones. My Grandparents in mid life would have thought “Bloody” very offensive, now I use it quite a bit, and it describes most Hollywood action movies.

I once heard it said German was good as a Technical language, French as a legal one and English as a social one. I have no doubt Chinese numbers are excellent for counting.

What will happen to language, mems and indioms with another 50 years of the Intenet?, International Net?

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No. It was Lewis Carroll (pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) who down wrote that masterpiece.

Speaking of idiomatic English and its quirks, I have a playful website-in-progress to illustrate English phrasal verbs, such as…

“If I can’t keep up, the company could lay me off”
“I can’t get over how you just… took off! Why?”
“I held out as long as I could, but eventually gave in”
"I came to when the drug wore off.”

I’ve been accumulating snippets of lyrics that illustrate the use of these expressions, like

  • all shook up
  • walk on by
  • I will get by


My favorite idiomatic English work is “The Chaos”, a poem by Dutch writer Gerard_Nolst_Trenite, which begins:

A close second for odd English usage is “Gadsby: a story of over 50,000 words without using the letter E”, a 1939 lipogrammatic, novel by Ernest Vincent Wright, which begins with this absurdly tortuous paragraph:



Who was it that decided that…

(“not wrong” or “not left”) + “not at home” = “now” or “immediately”

at on in over :: AT noon, ON Saturday, IN December, OVER Christmas

up and down :: Speed up, Slow down, Slow up???

And speaking of slowing down, while I was driving, my wife once accused me of “slowing down too fast.” :confounded:

The thing about language is “Some have fun with it, others use the sum of it”.

And the title is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Any other frequently misquoted titles you know of? Here’s one:

On the Origin of Species

– the “On” is rarely quoted.

In addition, neither the book in its original text or, therefore, the author himself coined the phrase survival of the fittest. That praise should go to one Herbert Spencer by way of Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin liked it so much, he included it in the fifth edition. Link.

And that phrase too has problems in today’s English. Many (most?) people think “fittest” means what you’d expect it to mean today: fit, as in exercises a lot, not a couch potato, etc. Back then, it just meant “best fit” as in “fits best into its environment and surroundings so as to survive and thrive”. Read the link, it’s sure to be mentioned.

So, I figured out — just from the fact that “seer” is thrown in there as an anomaly (mixing up the queer vs fair reading habit) — that ‘seer’ is surely pronounced as “sayr” in the version of English Nolst Trenité knew.

At least one online person in an online discussion confirms, "In my part of the world, you will hear “seer” pronounced like “pair”. Not sure what part of the world that is, but perhaps here we’re seeing an example of how — if a word is rare enough and found more in books than in conversation — many folks will just start pronouncing it more like it looks.

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And therein lies the pitfall.

“Do” and “Due”, where I come from, can never be confused. Yet here, in America (my adopted country) I see “due” written as “do” quite often, including by those I might expect to know the difference.

The reason (I believe) my country(wo)men don’t confuse the two spellings is the pronunciation:

“do” is phonetically “doo”

“due” is phonetically “d+you”, like cue, view, pew…

In the UK, there is a science-y TV show called Horizon (been running since the sixties). During one particular episode, they were meant to be visiting some kind of lab in California somewhere. On arrival, they found the doors to the lab closed, a handwritten sign on the door saying, “Closed do to the flu outbreak”.


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Yep, in my neck of the woods we’ve dropped that pattern for du. F(y)utile, but Dūbious, B(y)eauty and C(y)utie but Dūty, Comp(y)uter but Prodūcer. At least on this point, we’re actually pretty consistent!

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Here: Noo York
Me: N+you York

Funny turns of phrase?

Funniest by far (for me) this century…

“No, I’m an atheist, thank God.” Christpher Hitchens (Who else)

Oops. My reoccuring mistake :frowning_face:

Yes, I read and understood the original, Charles Darwin is the closest thing I have to a personal hero, and a deep understanding of evolution is an interest. This rereading of fittest is extensive, but its even worse, the false conclusions drawn from it.

  • For example the idea that evolution is progress, and only moves forward is wrong.


Ah, now we’re getting into Selfish Gene and The Ancestor’s Tale territory.

As long as you don’t misunderstand this term, I don’t think you do. As Richard Dawkins said recently, in a discussion, it is the gene that selfishly propagates itself that succeeds, but to do so, the phenotype it describes, and development, of the phenotype (us individuals), has an advantage, if it promotes the success of its relatives, and even can favor Altruism. That is individuals, in a healthy environment or community, are more likey to survive and thus reproduce “selfish genes”.

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Whom else?

Thankfully CodaCoder IS code codeing without hitch.