Why They Don’t Speak English

Stunned Emoji

Why do you study English??! We all speak it.   😳

The lights are on, but there’s nobody home.
The wheel isn’t turning. The hamster is dead.

Once upon a time, on a sunny September afternoon in 1958, I sat in a high school English class. We were studying Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice.’ The teacher had just read a passage, which included the phrase, “By dark and divers ways.”

The SCUBA diving system was a relatively recent invention, having only been patented by Jacques Cousteau 15 years earlier, in 1943. Suddenly, Biff, the class jock who sat in the row next to me, put up his hand. “Uh, Mr. Johnson, are they talking about guys who jump off cliffs, or that new SCUBA thingy?”

Mr. Johnson is bewildered. As far as he knew, we hadn’t been talking about people throwing themselves off cliffs – and he had no idea what a “SCUBA thingy” was. As he was stammering for a reply, I hissed at Biff, “Put an E on the end of it!”
“Whuh??
No talking in class!
Well, I was in it now. Might as well be hung for a sheep, as a lamb. “Put an E on the end of it!”
“Uh…. Edivers??”
That’s right Biff; there are two ends to a word. Only you would pick the wrong one. Now there were at least two confused people in the room.

“What’s going on back there?”

I stood up. I’m sorry Mr. Johnson. Biff saw the word ‘divers,’ and wondered if Shakespeare was talking about people who dive off things like cliffs, or if he was referring to the new mechanical system which allows people to be SCUBA divers, and breathe underwater, even though it didn’t exist 400 years ago.

We just came here from French class, where the French word ‘divers’ (dee-vare) means of many types, different, various. I was trying to tell Biff to add an E at the end, to produce the English word, ‘diverse.’

This led Mr. Johnson on a spirited lecture about the origin and changes to many English words, and got me off the hook. Biff probably went on to fame and fortune, and a football scholarship, while I can only define the word ‘obscure.’ He was regularly outwitted by the tackling dummy, and needed a handler to tie his shoes, ‘cause Velcro hadn’t been invented yet.

WOW #53

Hillbilly Couple

Englishman Umbrella

The smartest British archeologist on the Time Team talks like an American redneck. Lost letters, missing punctuation, and strange pronunciations (even for a Brit) litter his speech patterns, which were already set, in up-country Yorkshire, before he got an amazing education.

If he and his trusty trowel happen upon a particularly interesting/significant find, he is apt to burst out with

STONE THE CROWS!

An exclamation of incredulity or annoyance.

There are some words and phrases which dictionaries just cannot prove the origin of, like “rule of thumb.” That problem interests me, because this one is so new. The British OED claims that it is an American culturalism. Merriam-Webster insists that it is a British phrase. When they can’t fault each other, they blame it on the Australians.

There have been a few attempts to explain the origin of this odd phrase. A croze is the groove at the end of a wooden barrel that holds the end plate in place. It has been suggested that the expression was previously stow (or stove) the croze, that is, break open the barrel. I can find no supporting evidence for that idea though and have to consign it to the realms of folk-etymology. The more prosaic suggestion – that it alludes to the practice of throwing stones at crows – is much more likely.

I’ve found mid-20th century references from England that describe it as an Americanism and American newspaper articles that call it ‘an old English phrase’. The dates of those are more or less right but not the locations – the phrase appears to have originated in Australia. Most of the early citations in print come from down under. It has a sort of Australian twang to it and is in common with several other similar phrases, all with the same meaning: starve the bardies [bardies are grubs], stiffen the crows, spare the crow.

Crows were unwelcome guests at sheep farms as, given the chance, they will kill and eat newborn lambs, so the association with annoyance isn’t hard to see. The link in meaning to surprise isn’t obvious, but then there’s no particular reason to expect to find one. Stoning crows was a commonplace enough activity and calling it up into a phrase could have been done for no reason other than that the person who coined it just liked the sound of it. There are other expressions of surprise or annoyance like I’ll go to the foot of our stairs, strike me pink, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle or if that don’t take the rag off the bush. None Most of these don’t have any sensible literal meaning and stone the crows is another to add to that list.

Take the rag off the bush” actually dates to before households had laundry dryers, or even outdoor lines to hang it on. Large items like bed sheets or blankets were often draped over shrubs or bushes to dry in the sun and breeze. If a strong-enough gust of wind came along, it could blow the ‘rag’ off the bush, and down the street, into the dust or mud, and it would have to be washed (by hand) all over again.

Why (Fundamentalist) Christians Hate Atheists

….Agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists….pretty much anybody who’s not them!

Smartest People.jpeg

‘Good Christians’ often paint themselves into a corner with reality and society. The more Fundamentalist they are, the more numerous, and tighter, the corners.

Churches are not bastions of religious discussion. They are merely echo chambers.  Congregations congregate in buildings which are full of people who think exactly like them – no further thought required.  The strangely-dressed bellwether at the front says ‘Baaa’, and they all nod and pass the collection plate, eager to be fleeced.  There’s a reason that they’re called a flock.

Atheists are happy to be on their own, thinking their own thoughts and making their own decisions. For many Christians, it is not enough that they accept the existence of God, and Christ as their Savior; they must Have Faith, and Believe, to be able to go to Heaven.  The mere existence of Atheists, to say nothing of some of their more loudly-held opinions and arguments, undermines that faith and belief, and it scares the Hell into the Fundies.

If someone tells you that they CHOOSE TO BELIEVE – in God, or anything else – they’re full of bullshit, and they’re trying to feed some to you.  People believe because they are convinced.  They can become convinced, but it’s not controlled by an on/off switch.  They can claim that they’re convinced.  They can fool others.  They can even fool themselves, but if the God that they ’believe’ exists, really does, they’re not going to convince Him.  And so, the hatred of, and discrimination against, Atheists begins, to remove all doubts.

I can’t count the number of blog-posts and articles I’ve read, where someone raised in a ‘Good Christian’ home, becomes an Atheist. It seems the more Fundamentalist and Evangelical the household – the more likely it is to happen.  Possibly it’s because the mistakes and hypocrisy and fuzzy logic are more apparent, and easier to see.

It is sadly amusing how so many of these poor souls realize and admit that, based on the claims they’ve heard, they find no proof that the God described really exists. Many of them strongly resist calling themselves Atheists, because they’ve been taught that Atheists are evil, nasty and sinful.  I’m not evil, nasty, or sinful. I’m a nice person.  I can’t be an Atheist!  But the Christian families that kick them out, or entire Bible-belt towns who shun them, harass them, and force them to move away, are evil, nasty and sinful.

I’ve been preaching for years about the ego and insecurity that fuels this type of behavior. Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.  You don’t have to blindly believe in My truths, because, while I’m not imaginary, I’m only G.O.D., not God.

Flash Fiction #103

Lamb

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

INSOMNIA CURE

Late again, Johnson??!!  You’ve been warned.  You’d better have a good reason, or you’ll be collecting severance papers from HR.

Well, Sir, you know I live outside the city. I even left early this morning, but old man Morton was herding his sheep from one pasture to another, and I had to pull over so I didn’t hit any.

His flock seems to have grown, and I wondered how much, so I started counting them, 287, 288, 289, 290…. I was dreaming of a Simmons mattress – and suddenly it was 9:15.

True story or not, that one lets you stay.   😆

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Genetic Inheritance

A man in a bar sees a friend at a table,
drinking by himself. Approaching the
friend he comments, “You look terrible.
What’s the problem?” “My mother died in
June,” he said, “and left me $10,000.”
“Gee, that’s tough,” he replied. “Then
in July,” the friend continued, “my
father died, leaving me $50,000.”
“Wow.Two parents gone in two months. No
wonder you’re depressed.” “And last
month my aunt died, and left me $15,000.”
“Three close family members lost in three
months?  How sad.”

“Then this month,” continued the friend, “nothing!”

****

A circus owner walks into a bar to see everyone
crowded around a table watching a little show. On
the table was an upside down pot and a duck tap-
dancing on top of it.  He was so impressed
that he offered to buy the duck from its owner.
After some wheelin’ and dealin’ they settled for
$10,000 for the duck and the pot.

Three days later the circus owner runs back to
the bar in anger, “Your duck is a rip-off! I put
him on the pot before a whole audience and he
didn’t dance a single step!”

“So?” asked the duck’s former owner, “did you
remember to light the candle under the pot?”

****

A group of blondes walk into a bar screaming “51
days.”  They order a round of drinks still
screaming, “51 days.”  The bartender wants to know
what the 51 days is all about but just can’t ask.

A while later, after many drinks the blondes are
still screaming, “51 days,” so the bartender decides
he has to ask.  As he delivers the next round to
the women he says “Ladies I have to know what’s
the 51 days about?”

The blondes replied “We had a jigsaw puzzle and on the
box it said 2-5 years and we did it in 51 days”

****

The first half of our lives is ruined by our
parents, and the second half by our children.

Clarence Darrow

****

This panda walks into a bar. He sits down at a
table. A waiter comes, and the panda orders his
food, and eats it. Then, he pulls out a gun and
blows the brains out of the waiter. When he gets
up and is about to leave, the bartender
yells, “Hey, you just shot my waiter! Where do
you think you’re going?” And the panda says, “I’m
a panda! Look it up!”

So the bartender looks up “panda” in the dictionary.
It reads: “Fur-bearing mammal, lives in Australia.
EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES.”

****

We are born naked, wet and hungry.
Then things get worse.

****

There is a blond driving through the country. She
has just dyed her hair brown because she is sick
of being made fun of. She is really hungry. She
stops at a farmer’s house and says “Hi! If I can
guess how many sheep you have, can I have one?”
Farmer says OK. She quickly counts them and says”91!”

The farmer looks around puzzledly and says
“Ok. Take one.” When the Blond is walking back to
her car the farmer asks “If I can guess your
natural hair color, can I have my dog back?”