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"Chloe Harris" really is the pseudonym for two writers, Noelle and Barbra, who've joined forces to write intriguing and sexy stories. A quintessential eccentric southerner, Noelle seems to find a story in almost everything. Ever ambitious to change her stars, she has a degree in Communications. Barbra lives together with her cat ('Princess Mimi'), who isn't very happy that she is spending so much time on writing. But this folly of the living can opener with opposable thumbs is mostly tolerated.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sense and Nonsense of Sayings

by Barbra

This isn’t a cock-and-bull story. It’s the sad truth I’m faced with every day. Read it and weep, folks (or do whatever you think is appropriate as you hear this dumb bunny’s tale)!

Sayings. For a polyglot they are a jungle with shrubbery so densely grown that you cannot fight your way through them even if you had a machete as tall as the man of your dreams. A saying, according to the OALD, is “a well-known phrase or statement that expresses something about life that most people believe is wise and true.”

Take this, for example:

Well? Oh, c’mon. It’s an easy one - “Bark up the wrong tree”. I know I might be a little prejudiced here, but seeing it from a completely practical viewpoint, you have to agree with me that it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, where’s the right tree if this one is wrong? Is there a right tree? How is this saying supposed to be “wise and true”?

Probably what I’m trying to convey here isn’t clear enough, so let me illustrate my thoughts with another example:

Can you guess? It’s “Kill two birds with one stone”! Now that is a very interesting saying. Where does it come from? And how exactly do you kill two birds with one stone—if you wanted to ruthlessly murder birds with a stone that is?
It took me about half a year to actually find out what this saying means. Half a year you ask? (I’m assuming you ask for the sake of feeling important in my blog ramblings, so bear with me) And I say, yes! Six months! And why? Because in German it is – roughly translated – “smash two flies with one fly swat”. How am I supposed to know that flies have mutated into birds?

I’m sure I can find another example. Oh, yes! How about this one:

You’re right! It’s “The early bird catches the worm”. My first question of course is: Is there such a thing as a late bird? So you can understand the misery I was in when I first heard that saying about this “early bird”.

Simple phrases put me off as well. I mean what is “cute as a bug’s ear” supposed to mean? Can you tell me where this happy (lady)bug, which by now most probably has met its final destination in an early bird's tummy which again has been slain alongside another in a most gruesome fashion, namely with a stone, has its ears? And what is cute about them?

I was told this is an equivalent to “cute as a button”. Now, what exactly is cute about a button? How am I supposed to find a logical explanation for this?

As soon as I find myself being able to understand a saying, a phrase or an idiom, I find myself bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to learn more. I’m an eager beaver to constantly improve. However, when it comes to actively employ such sayings, it seems the cat’s got my tongue. But I truly believe that every dog has his day and one day I’ll maybe be able to use one of these exceptional sayings correctly. For fear of flogging a dead horse, I’ll stop ranting now. Let me hit the bulls-eye of my ramblings: There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, so I’ll keep walking forward and stumble over these obstacles that are so “wise and true”...

Do you have a favorite saying or phrase that you’d like to share with me? Come on, enlighten me!


Noelle said...

"The good Lord willing and the c/Creek don't rise"

Because there is controversy whether the saying originally mean "creek don't raise" as in body of water flooding or "Creek don't rise" as in tribe of Indians taking up arms against you.

Anonymous said...

Interesting! So, do you use that when you want to express "if all goes well..." or "hopefully"?

Noelle said...


Say. "Do you think you'll be able to make it to the game on Sunday?"

"If the good lord's willing and the creek don't rise"

So it means definitely unless something out of my control happenings.