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BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?

Mr Happy 19 Feb 08 - 07:02 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Feb 08 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,PMB 19 Feb 08 - 07:13 AM
Mr Happy 19 Feb 08 - 07:19 AM
Mr Happy 19 Feb 08 - 07:28 AM
Rapparee 19 Feb 08 - 08:50 AM
Amos 19 Feb 08 - 09:10 AM
Mrrzy 19 Feb 08 - 09:18 AM
George Papavgeris 19 Feb 08 - 09:58 AM
Rapparee 19 Feb 08 - 11:40 AM
Bill D 19 Feb 08 - 12:16 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 08 - 12:39 PM
Amos 19 Feb 08 - 01:33 PM
John O'L 19 Feb 08 - 04:37 PM
Cluin 19 Feb 08 - 04:42 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 08 - 04:43 PM
Mr Red 19 Feb 08 - 05:47 PM
gnu 19 Feb 08 - 06:48 PM
Jim Dixon 19 Feb 08 - 06:53 PM
Amos 19 Feb 08 - 07:30 PM
Mr Red 20 Feb 08 - 01:37 PM
Cluin 21 Feb 08 - 08:32 PM
Jim Dixon 23 Feb 08 - 08:56 AM

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Subject: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:02 AM

A commonly used expression hereabouts to describe something useless or difficult is " .......teach your grandmother to suck eggs"

Anyone know how this phrase came about?

And how does granny benefit from the acquisition of such a skill?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:12 AM

This topic has been discussed before: see BS: teaching grandmother to suck eggs


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:13 AM

In the days of poor dental services, grannies frequently had few teeth. Suck eggs or starve, so they could be expected to be experts.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:19 AM

Jim,

I did a search using the words "teaching grandmother to suck eggs" & came up zilch


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:28 AM

Do they then, have an egg tooth to break through the shell?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 08:50 AM

"Don't teach your grandma how to suck eggs" around here means don't try to teach someone something they know how to do well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 09:10 AM

The origins may be obscurebut the meaning is plain. Children in years gone by learned the trick of sucking the contents out of an eggshell without breaking the shell, by making a pinhole in each end of it. Understandably this new trick would inspire the child to want to brag about it and teach it to others, who had learned about it over sixty years earlier.

Here is an entry from a language forum which I find credible:

"Collecting bird's eggs and displaying the empty shells was a popular
child's hobby from perhaps the mid-1800s to mid-1900s. The phrase
"teaching your grandmother to suck eggs" entered the language from
a famous cartoon in "Punch", perhaps about 1890, in which a
precocious child with a bird's egg tells his grandmother "You see,
Grandmama, before you extract the contents of this" for bird's egg> "by suction, you must make an incision at one
extremity, and a corresponding orifice at the other." Grandmama's
response is to the effect, "Dearie me! And we used to just make a
hole at each end." The Punch cartoon page is responsible for
several more otherwise incomprehensible turns of English phrase.
The best-known may be "Like the curate's egg, good in parts" from
a circa 1920s cartoon in which a dinner hostess says to a shy
guest "oh dear, curate, I'm afraid you have a bad egg" - graphically
shown in the picture - and the curate (a junior clergyman), desperate
not to offend, assures her that "no, parts of it are very good".
"


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 09:18 AM

I used this phrase in a psych exam (if you were going to teach your grandmother to suck eggs, would you use operant or classical conditioning?) because I thought it was a common expression... and NOBODY in my class had ever heard of it! Must be British...


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 09:58 AM

....because licking them is disgusting, and blowing them makes a mess?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 11:40 AM

I generally use a firecracker to blow eggs, 'cause dynamite doesn't leave any egg.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:16 PM

as in the other threrad, WorldWideWords is your friend


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:39 PM

The best use of that expression, I think, is in the movie "Love At First Bite".


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 01:33 PM

Well, that certainly antedates Punch, so well found.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: John O'L
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:37 PM

Purse your lips Nanna, no, like this, yes OK put your teeth in that's right, now suck, no, don't blow, suck, that's right, oh you've dropped it. Get another egg...


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Cluin
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:42 PM

No, LH. It was when Burl Ives used it in "The Big Country".


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:43 PM

Oh yeah...that was good too, eh? ;-) It's a phrase that Chongo loves to use, as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Mr Red
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 05:47 PM

because shells have been getting thinner over the years and Granny needs a refresher course, or an appetiser.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: gnu
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 06:48 PM

But, does yer granny wear army boots?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 06:53 PM

That Punch story is wonderful. I, too, find it credible.

Now, can Punch explain "Bob's your uncle"?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:30 PM

Naw, them's AUssie words, mate.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 01:37 PM

Wiki tells a story on Bob but offers

Another theory is that the phrase derives from the slang "all is bob", which means "everything is good"

Now where did "all is Bob" come from"?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Cluin
Date: 21 Feb 08 - 08:32 PM

Same place as "Everything's jake".


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Subject: RE: BS: Why teach granny to suck eggs?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 08:56 AM

Hold on! The expression is older than that Punch cartoon.

From "Polite Conversation"* in The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, D.D., Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, 1801, vol. 8, page 302:
    Miss. Lord! I have torn my petticoat with your odious romping; my rents are coming in; I 'm afraid I shall fall into the ragman's hands.
    Neverout. I'll mend it, miss.
    Miss. You mend it! go, teach your grannam to suck eggs.
* The full title of this work is "A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, According to the Most Polite Mode and Method Now Used at Court, and in the Best Companies of England. In Three Dialogues. By Simon Wagstaff, Esq." The whole work seems to be a satire on the use of clichés and catch phrases.


From Lexicon Balatronicum: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence By Francis Grose, Hewson Clarke, 1811, page 91:
    GRANNY. ... Go teach your granny to suck eggs; said to such as would instruct any one in a matter he knows better than themselves.

From The history of Tom Jones, a foundling By Henry Fielding, 1820, page 422:
    I remember, my old schoolmaster, who was a prodigious great scholar, used often to say, Polly matete cry town is my daskalon. The English of which, he told us, was, That a child may sometimes teach his grandmother to suck eggs.
(As Tom Jones is a satirical novel, I would not advise taking this "translation" too seriously.)


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Mudcat time: 19 October 11:06 PM EDT

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