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BS: Sam Hill

Ted from Australia 13 Oct 99 - 08:53 AM
katlaughing 13 Oct 99 - 10:12 AM
Bert 13 Oct 99 - 10:42 AM
sophocleese 13 Oct 99 - 10:51 AM
Roger the skiffler 13 Oct 99 - 11:29 AM
MAG (inactive) 13 Oct 99 - 12:59 PM
DougR 13 Oct 99 - 01:15 PM
Bert 13 Oct 99 - 01:18 PM
catspaw49 13 Oct 99 - 01:34 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Oct 99 - 01:38 PM
MMario 13 Oct 99 - 01:56 PM
Pete Peterson 13 Oct 99 - 02:03 PM
Gene 13 Oct 99 - 05:27 PM
Banjer 13 Oct 99 - 06:24 PM
cronk 13 Oct 99 - 06:31 PM
katlaughing 13 Oct 99 - 06:42 PM
katlaughing 13 Oct 99 - 06:56 PM
Mían 13 Oct 99 - 07:03 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 13 Oct 99 - 11:01 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 13 Oct 99 - 11:04 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Oct 99 - 12:02 AM
catspaw49 14 Oct 99 - 12:22 AM
katlaughing 14 Oct 99 - 12:24 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 14 Oct 99 - 02:54 AM
Roger the skiffler 14 Oct 99 - 03:56 AM
Ted from Australia 14 Oct 99 - 10:04 AM
katlaughing 14 Oct 99 - 11:29 AM
14 Oct 99 - 12:59 PM
Allan C. 14 Oct 99 - 02:09 PM
DougR 15 Oct 99 - 08:00 PM
catspaw49 15 Oct 99 - 09:14 PM
katlaughing 16 Oct 99 - 03:12 AM

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Subject: Sam Hill
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 08:53 AM

Rather than indulge in even more thread creep in the Samhien thread I thought that i would ask why is it that our American cousins are so reluctant to call a spade a spade? "Rather than being crass and asking 'what in the hell are you saying?' it sounds more polite to ask 'What the Sam Hill are you saying?'! "
For instance: I am always amused when Yanks (obviously looking for the toilet)ask to be directed to "the rest room" or the "wash room".
What do you want ? a shit, a sleep or a shower" NOI. Regards, Ted.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 10:12 AM

Ah, Ted, the so-called mores of the Victorian age, here at least, die slowly....polite company and all that, ya know?!


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Bert
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 10:42 AM

Reminds me of an earlier thread


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: sophocleese
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 10:51 AM

I would say that in Canada to call a spade a spade is simply not refined enough. We would prefer to call it an agricultural implement. There are also those few who are so refined (inbred) as to call it an agricultural impediment.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 11:29 AM

Yes, Soph, I was taught: an Englishman calls a spade a spade, a North American calls it a manual agricultural implement and , Ted, an Australian calls it a bloody shovel.
No doubt the upper classes (think Lady Bracknell) would claim never to have seen a spade!
BTW the best bit of advice my father gave me on marriage was:"When buying a fork and spade for the garden, get the lightweight ones so Sheila can use them!"
RtS (thread creep and tired old jokes a speciality)


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 12:59 PM

Yep, a lot of it is plain silly. I mean, saying you are going to visit Mrs. P.

Unfortunately, you get your head bit off in some circles if you mention that your high fiber diet needs more water pressure in the plumbing system.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: DougR
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 01:15 PM

I never heard my father say a curse word. When concerned about something he might say, "I'll be Sam Hill, or I swan!" Does anybody know who Sam Hill was? I never really thought much about it until I saw this thread. If someone knows, I'd be interested in being educated about old Sam Hill.

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Bert
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 01:18 PM

Weren't he Bunker Hill's brother?


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 01:34 PM

American Putitan Ethic...

But DOUG....My grandparents used to say "I swan" all the time...Is it like "I swear" or what? They'd also use it as "Well my swan"...........Never thought about it til years later when Karen asked me what the Sam Hill it meant.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 01:38 PM

This is absolutely the first time I can recall Americans accused of being too subtle.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: MMario
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 01:56 PM

Why use plain language when a euphemism will do? I personally think it's not only a hangover from "victorian" morals but a deep seated aversion to being punished leftover from the "religious freedom" of Puritan days.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 02:03 PM

My father used to use the expression. I asked him about it once and he said Sam Hill was Jim Hill's younger brother. Of course this led to a second question, to which the answer was that in Missoula MT, where he grew up, the most hated man was Jim Hill, owner of the Northern Pacific RR, which ran through Missoula on its way from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest. Think of some of the Granger songs from around 1890 and you have an idea. . . Dad was born in 1909.


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Subject: ADD Lyrics: Sam Hill
From: Gene
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 05:27 PM

FWIW:
Tommy Collins, author of:
You Better Not Do That
You Gotta Have A License
I Always Get A Souvenir
High On A Hllltop
Boob-I-Lak
Carolyn
Hank's [Williams] Song
and scores of other hit songs

gave SAM HILL a different twist

Merle Haggard later wrote the song
'Leonard' about Tommy Collins


SAM HILL
Recorded by: Merle Haggard
Recorded by: Claude Gray

There's a certain hill outside of town called SAM HILL
And a certain guy used to go there every day
They said a certain girl lived up in SAM HILL
Aw, a pretty girl, not hep to city ways

This certain guy would come down the hill a smilin'
Headed back to town at the crack of dawn
And he had 'em all a wonderin' what he was doin'
Yeah, wonderin' what in SAM HILL's goin' on

We knew this certain guy was not a goldminer
Cause he never took a shovel or a pick
He only took a little box of candy
And disappeared in SAM HILL mighty quick

We tried to follow him to his destination
But he had a secret path and soon he was gone
And he had us all a wonderin' what he was doin'
Yeah, wonderin' what in SAM HILL's goin' on

I know that you have wondered too about SAM HILL
You've probably asked "What in SAM HILL's goin' on?"
All I can say in answer to your question
Is the goin's on are still goin' on

This certain guy's still takin' up his candy
He's 99 and all his youth is gone
But he climbs that hill and still comes down a smilin'
And we're wonderin' what in SAM HILL's goin' on

TAG:
Wish I knew ... What in SAM HILL's goin' on
He won't tell us' ... What in SAM HILL's goin' on
He just snickers ... What in SAM HILL's goin' on


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Banjer
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 06:24 PM

Oh my, I guess I started somethin', huh? I grew up with the expression and never gave much thought as to its origin. But if anybody does discover what the Sam Hill's goin' on, please advise....Thanks


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: cronk
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 06:31 PM

Sam Hill was a real man. An entrepreneur in eastern Wash. or eastern Oregon who operated near the Columbia River.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 06:42 PM

DougeR and 'Spaw: wasn't that "swan" a drawled out Southern version, literally of "I sworn/swear", i.e "I was swan to secrecy"? Everybody knows those of you with a little South in Your Mouth, drawl out those "r's" until thay-ah almost non-existent!*BG*

Now, I am off on a NetQuest, to see who in the Sam Hill, Sam Hill WAS! Oh, does El Swanno come into this somehow?

katreallylaughing


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 06:56 PM

Well, I did find this in a quick search fo Yahoo:

We've all heard that phrase before.
But did Sam Hill really exist?

Yes, indeed. He lived in Washington and married the daughter of a railroad magnate. He built a large mansion called Maryhill on 7,000 acres of land. His wife refused to live in the mansion, and it is now a museum that has a stunning collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures. Sam Hill also built a partial replica of Stonehenge as a memorial to veterans of World War I from Klickitat County.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Mían
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 07:03 PM

This is really getting interesting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 11:01 PM

I don't really see an etymological link to the story of the Washingtonian Sam Hill: If he was the original, how did the usage develop? And when I grew up, a long long time ago and in another galaxy, it was not "What in Sam Hill are you doing?" but "Where in Sam Hill have you been?" implying that Sam Hill was a place.

--seed


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 13 Oct 99 - 11:04 PM

Actually, now that I think of it, I think Sam Hill is just a euphemism for Hell: What the Hell are you doing. Where the hell have you been?

--seed


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 12:02 AM

Well, has anyone considered that the word "toilet"
is a euphemism, too?


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: catspaw49
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 12:22 AM

I dunno Dick...Have you considered that "euphemism" is a euphemism?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 12:24 AM

And, how about "bathroom"; sure one could bathe in most, but that's not really what we want when we ask where it is.

Bseed- I just put the Sam Hill in WA in as an interesting thing I found on the Net, not as a definitive answer.*g*

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:54 AM

Kat, I wasn't accusing you of being etymologically promiscuous--just noting that no one who mentioned that Sam Hill had shown that this man was "the" Sam Hill or had given any indication of how the idiom had originated. In other words, I was just operating in my pedantic butthead mode.

--seed


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:56 AM

Isn't Gordon Bennett Sam Hill's English cousin?


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 10:04 AM

'Spaw you are right of course, "toilet" is a euphemism. Even Aussies (but only in mixed company) won't ask to be directed to 'the crapper" the "shithouse" or "the pisser" ;-)
Regards , Ted.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 11:29 AM

s'okay, Seed, I knew that. Maybe I shoulda made the *G* bigger?! No problem!


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From:
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 12:59 PM

forget Sam Hill. Who is John Brown? My Mom has always said, "Well, I'll be John Brown!" to express amazement. And, to mean that something happens fast, she says "Faster than you can say 'Jack Robinson' backwards." Where does _that_ come from. Also, does anybody know where Plum Nelly is?

BeauD


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: Allan C.
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:09 PM

There exist two wonderful books by Charles Earle Funk. One is called "A Hog On Ice & Other Curious Expressions". The other is "Heavens To Betsy & Other Curious Sayings". Both are well worth the $8 (U.S.) each to keep around for just such questions as these.

Regarding Sam Hill, he says this:
"After long an diligent search for some American of sufficient prominence in a bygone generation to justify the continued use of his name, even to the present time, in such sayings as 'to run like Sam Hill,' 'What the Sam Hill,' 'Who the Sam Hill,' and so on, I have come to the conclusion that the editors of the 'Dictionary of Americanisms' were right in calling the term 'a euphemism for hell.' It may be, as Edwin V. Mitchell says in his 'Encyclopedia of American Politics' (1946), that there was a Colonel Samuel Hill of Guilford, Connecticut, who continuously ran for and was elected to public office in both town and state, but this colonel, though perhaps locally prominent, does not turn up in any of the numerous biographical records I have consulted. Nor does Mr Mitchell supply any dates. The expression itself had sufficiently widespread usage to extend into Schuyler County, New York, by 1839."

He obviously didn't become aware of the Washington Sam Hill mentioned above or else the date of the Schuyler County appearance may have predated that railroad magnate. I'm sure I don't know.

John Brown was hanged. I imagine the expression phrased in the post above was a euphemism for "I'll be hanged!".

Mr. Funk has this to say about Jack Robinson:
"This means in a couple of shakes, two shakes of a lamb's tail, or, in plain English, immediately, with no loss of time. The expression arose during the latter part of the eighteenth century and, as far as anyone has been able to discover, it was no more than a meaningless phrase. No 'Jack Robinson' nor 'John Robinson' attained any prominence at that period.

As to the meaning of "swan" while I have always thought that it was used instead of "swear", I remember reading a discussion somewhere in which someone offered the idea that it may have come from the word, "swoon" which, besides being defined as losing consciousness is also said to mean being in a state of bewilderment. I don't have any answers for this one but thought you might find those possibilities of interest.


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: DougR
Date: 15 Oct 99 - 08:00 PM

Well I'll swan.

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: catspaw49
Date: 15 Oct 99 - 09:14 PM

John Brown......assuming we're talking about the abolitionist and not the Phyllis George ex, ex-Kentucky governor, and fried Chicken tycoon who exed the Colonel.....was the proof that crazed, eccentrric, zealots, even on the side of the angels, are still crazed, eccentric, zealots!

Do I have to add he was, of course, from Ohio?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Sam Hill
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Oct 99 - 03:12 AM

I've just posted a query on sam Hill, John Brown, swan, and Plum Nelly to this:

"Weekly World Wide Words newsletters that are written by Michael Quinion.

Newsletters discuss the vagaries of the English language, including word histories, new words, the background to words in the news, and some of the problems of English usage. World Wide Words also tries to answer your questions on English language and usage."

Will let you know what they say.


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This Thread Is Closed.


Mudcat time: 16 September 7:56 AM EDT

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