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Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases

Allan C. 16 Jun 12 - 07:48 AM
Jack Campin 16 Jun 12 - 08:20 AM
Gutcher 16 Jun 12 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,John Foxen 16 Jun 12 - 10:38 AM
DMcG 16 Jun 12 - 10:45 AM
s&r 16 Jun 12 - 11:04 AM
Ross Campbell 16 Jun 12 - 11:09 AM
Geoff the Duck 16 Jun 12 - 11:49 AM
Marje 16 Jun 12 - 01:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jun 12 - 02:31 PM
Bill D 16 Jun 12 - 03:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jun 12 - 03:10 PM
fat B****rd 16 Jun 12 - 04:11 PM
ollaimh 16 Jun 12 - 06:50 PM
DMcG 17 Jun 12 - 03:17 AM
Marje 17 Jun 12 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 17 Jun 12 - 04:37 AM
Allan C. 17 Jun 12 - 11:11 AM
Geoff the Duck 17 Jun 12 - 01:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 12 - 01:28 PM
Jim McLean 17 Jun 12 - 01:50 PM
Crowhugger 17 Jun 12 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,Guest Phil 17 Jun 12 - 03:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 12 - 03:35 PM
Effsee 17 Jun 12 - 10:22 PM
katlaughing 17 Jun 12 - 10:39 PM
Geoff the Duck 18 Jun 12 - 03:53 AM
Nigel Parsons 18 Jun 12 - 04:05 AM
Tootler 18 Jun 12 - 04:08 AM
Sailor Ron 18 Jun 12 - 04:52 AM
Allan C. 18 Jun 12 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler 18 Jun 12 - 07:05 AM
Jim McLean 18 Jun 12 - 08:15 AM
clueless don 18 Jun 12 - 08:38 AM
Gutcher 18 Jun 12 - 10:41 AM
Rob Naylor 18 Jun 12 - 11:32 AM
Bill D 18 Jun 12 - 12:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jun 12 - 03:15 PM
Carole Bannister 18 Jun 12 - 04:12 PM
Darowyn 19 Jun 12 - 03:00 AM
doc.tom 19 Jun 12 - 05:11 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Allan C.
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 07:48 AM

In a recent thread Big Al Whittle used the phrase, "Nick the lead off the church roof ...". I find descriptive phrases like this one to be among the most wonderful elements of human speech. Such things also set me to wondering as to how they came to be. For instance: Was there a time when roofs were made of lead? Why? Was there a time when lead was quite valuable or is the point of the phrase that it had only a little value?

Every language seems to contain idioms and colloquialisms that so perfectly illustrate an idea. My wife, Carmen, often shares some of the German idioms that she knows. They are fabulously descriptive and often hilarious. What treasures!

And so I ask that each of you pay attention to such phrases as you may encounter in conversation, either your own or in things overheard. Please note them and post them here along with any explanations as to meaning and provenance that you may wish to offer.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 08:20 AM

Stealing lead off church roofs is more common in the UK now than it's ever been. Somebody did it to the church in our village (near Edinburgh) a few months ago. The church is now beyond repair and will be demolished shortly.

The lead is used for sealing the joins and ridges. Almost all churches use it (the exceptions use copper or (rarely) aluminium - copper is more common in Continental Europe than it is here).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Gutcher
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 10:00 AM

"The fat soo"s erse is aye weel creashed" rude but true---in English ---"to he who has shall be given" or words to that effect.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 10:38 AM

Once upon a time a staple joke of comedians/folk singers was: "My father wanted to be here to see me tonight but sadly he's up above.. nicking the lead off the roof."
Is that phrase now so old and out of fashion I can start using it again?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: DMcG
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 10:45 AM

Idiomatic phrases can be tricky. It's embarrassing how long it took me to realise that 'burning the candle at both ends' wasn't just an weird phrase but meant using a candle normally at both ends of the day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: s&r
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 11:04 AM

My understanding is that early cheap domestic candles were made from rushes or similar, folded in half (like a V shape) and clamped vertically into a holder. One arm would normally be lit: two for special occasions.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 11:09 AM

Lead sheet was and is an expensive material. Its use in country houses and churches reflects the status of these buildings when they were built. It was used not only for flashings and valleys, but in many cases covered the whole surface, folding and soldering enabling a weather-tight seal.

The problem with the current spate of thefts of metal from roofs is that the reward for the thieves, though enhanced by the high price for scrap, is insignificant compared with the cost of replacement and repairs to damage which have to be met by the owners of the buildings, who even if insured are often not in a position to meet sudden expenses like that - hence the closure of affected churches and the abandonment of other listed buildings.

A handsome copper-roofed church here in Fleetwood (built 1950s) has suffered a series of thefts like this in recent weeks despite being in a prominent, open position.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 11:49 AM

I had never considered burning the candle at both ends to mean anything other than setting light to both ends of a candle.
A quick web search brings up http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/burning-the-candle-at-both-ends.html which reckons the meaning "both ends of the day" is one added fairly recently.

I also found an interesting video - Buring a candle at both ends.

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Marje
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 01:28 PM

Theft of lead from roofs of churches and other buildings does indeed still happen and can be serious - here's a report of an incident that took place just a couple of days ago:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-18457703

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 02:31 PM

Allen C, I think there is a thread (below the line?) on this subject.
I remember posting "too much sugar for a dime" and posts of others. Not sure how to find or link it.

Stealing lead has been partly replaced by stealing copper wire, etc., because of the high price copper commands.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 03:01 PM

I am more interested in the use of "nick" "cop" and other slang & idiom for 'stealing' than for why lead is stolen.

Sometimes I wonder if those who use the slang terms for various things can translate for those of us who may not be familiar with the idiom.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 03:10 PM

"Lift" is common, also hook, swipe, pinch, boost, five finger discount.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: fat B****rd
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 04:11 PM

Not to mention 'filch'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: ollaimh
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 06:50 PM

when the laird of the o'neils was striking his blow for freedom at the battle of red ford, he was able to defeat the more modern english armies by introducing lead musket or arquebuss balls to ireland for the first time. he convinced queen elizabeth tthat he was inporting the lead for the roof of his mansion. there was no irish source of lead at the time. he then stole his own roof to make musket balls. unfortunately the rebellion was shortlived but the victory at red ford does deserve a song. i have never heard one.

the price of base metals has risen and created a lot of theft. a few yeaqrs ago in ontarion a statue in life sized bronze of a famous ulrainian poet was stolen and mostly melted down for the scrap value. they stopped the scrape dealer with the head left. i hope thay charged the bastard. who buys a full sized bronze statue and thinks it was legally acquired for scrap. it was worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars, the scrap value was about ten grand. few businesses are lower than that


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 03:17 AM

Thanks for the feedback on that candle - especially the video!
It does highlight the oddities of idioms, though. I doubt if many people use the phrase 'burning the candle at both ends' nowadays to mean spendthrift. There's an obvious speculative path how it could change from meaning 'spendthright' to 'working/partying a lot', but it would be speculation on my part.

The copper was stolen from my church roof about 3 months ago. Approximate value £100 - thin sheets, cutting the centre out of a smallish number of panels. Approximate cost to replace: £7000, since the whole lot had to be done.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Marje
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 04:09 AM

I think there have always been many slang words for theft; partly as a sort of euphemism, trying to find a word that sound less unpleasant than "steal", and also because if, among a given group of people, they keep changing the words used in relation to crime, they can have conversations when they're unlikely to be understood if overheard. That's always been the way in the criminal underworld, and lightweight "nicking" or "pinching" is so common that such terms are widely used by everyone.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 04:37 AM

There's a lot of waffle about various thefts, not what Allen requires me thinks, how about " a face like a bag of spanners" to describe someone somewhat less than beautiful?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 11:11 AM

Spot on, Raggytash!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 01:14 PM

To follow the theme...
" a face like the back end of a bus"
He had a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp!

What sort of stuff is required? Are we looking for things such as
"About as much use as a chocolate teapot."
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 01:28 PM

She lacked a few cells of having a brain.
He was behind the door when brains were passed out.
He was a few bricks short of a load.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Jim McLean
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 01:50 PM

I always thought the word 'Copt' came from the Yiddish for 'got'. The German 'gehapt' is pronounced a bit like 'Copt'' in parts of Bavaria and I find Yiddish very close to Bavarian.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Crowhugger
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 01:56 PM

Along Q's line, "a bubble off plumb."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: GUEST,Guest Phil
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 03:05 PM

as old as God's dog
..when God was a boy..
make hey while the sun shines
taking a Day for the Queen/King
Let's have a Slow Monday
..and countless other sayings that have deserted me! Will add as they come back to me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 03:35 PM

In the pink
Fit as a fiddle
Bright-eyed and bushy tailed

Many in this vein.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Effsee
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 10:22 PM

A face like a well skelped erse...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 10:39 PM

I think it is THIS ONE you are thinking of Q. Plus, there were two subsequent threads. Always good to gather more, though, and still loads of fun!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 03:53 AM

Do we need some form of attribution - whose local idiom?
Which Country?
What the user actually intends by to comment?
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 04:05 AM

Raggytash:
how about " a face like a bag of spanners" to describe someone somewhat less than beautiful?

Of course, 'spanners' can be appreciative as well.

"They called her 'Spanners', 'cos one look and you could feel your nuts tighten!"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 04:08 AM

Birmingham Screwdriver!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 04:52 AM

God's mercy like Pilling Moss is endless.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Allan C.
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 06:07 AM

Geoff the Duck asked some good questions:

Do we need some form of attribution - whose local idiom?
Which Country?

Yes, that would be useful.


What the user actually intends by to comment?
Yes. For instance: In the southern USA an old expression is, "barking up the wrong tree". I think this refers to 'coon hunting and a dog that isn't indicating the tree where the raccoon is actually hiding. But in common usage it can be used to describe an erroneous or useless action by someone.

Are we looking for things such as
"About as much use as a chocolate teapot."?

Yes. But please don't limit yourself to insults such as have already been covered in other threads.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 07:05 AM

She had a face like the back end of a cow in action. (Insult?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 08:15 AM

A face like bursled totty (west of Scotland pronunciation of potatoe or tattle).
When potatoes are mashed and then put in front of the fire to brown or "bursle', the resultant effect is not very complimentary to one's visage.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: clueless don
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 08:38 AM

Gutcher, on 16 Jun 12 - 10:00 AM, wrote

"The fat soo"s erse is aye weel creashed" rude but true---in English ---"to he who has shall be given" or words to that effect.

I heard this as "Them as has, gits".

Regarding stealing lead from church roofs, I remember a Peter Sellers movie where that figured into the plot. Can't remember the title offhand. Possibly "Heavens Above!"?

Don


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Gutcher
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 10:41 AM

"As gleg as a Kilmaurs whittle"---in English---"as sharp as a knife"
Kilmaurs having been famous for its cutlery long before Sheffield.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 11:32 AM

"Barking up the wrong tree" certainly isn't peculiar to the southern USA. It's been in common use in the UK for a very long time.

One from my Yorkshire youth is: " 'Ee were framin' 'issen like a berserk mole".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 12:03 PM

" to describe someone somewhat less than beautiful?"

Looks like they'd been french-kissed by a Mack truck...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 03:15 PM

Expressions in the U.S. are difficult to localize since they spread quickly, i. e. the one already given, 'barking up the wrong tree' I have heard from Texas to Canada to Hawai'i. Of course it has been around a long time.
A few that seem not to have spread very far-

I'm fixin' to go to town (seems centered in Texas)
If he was dying of thirst I wouldn't give him the dew off my dong (Texas).
It don't make no nevermind. Texas, Oklahoma.
Said of a man with a bearded face, hippie era- To determine his sex, you would have to turn him up and blow on the fluff. Texas.
Too much sugar for a dime. Georgia.
You have to hire it up. Said of a food that needs seasoning. Georgia.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Carole Bannister
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 04:12 PM

A couple of my favourates, as spoken by an old farmer aquaintance are
"He went down like a shot steer" "wider than a whale's yawn" "Gone like a long dog" just wish I could remember more of them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: Darowyn
Date: 19 Jun 12 - 03:00 AM

Rod Naylor's use of the Yorkshire "Framing" which means tackling a task in hand, reminds me of another saying,
         "Tha's framin' like a man made o' band!"
Translated that's "You are doing that like someone made of string!"- I.E. You're hopeless!
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Colloquial and Idiomatic Phrases
From: doc.tom
Date: 19 Jun 12 - 05:11 AM

About as much use as:
An ashtray on a motor bike
A chocolate mantlepiece
A lock on a 24-hour shop
A crash helmet on a kamikaze pilot
A donkey's fart in a bottle


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