Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, February 14, 2008

For Pete's Sake

"Names are not always what they seem. The common Welsh name BZJXXLLWCP is pronounced Jackson."
-Mark Twain

My Spouse relishes the beauty of English as much as I; there are so many puns, idioms and labyrinthine twists and turns in the rules that there always seems something fresh to be deduced from the language. It is, I say, a veritable Pandora's box.
Frequently my Spouse drops names into discussion, familiar names that we have all met with since we learned to grasp speech:
"Every Tom, Dick and Harry..."
"For the love of Mike..."
"That would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul..."
"Joe Blow..."
"Bob's your Uncle..."
There again, Spouse casually says "ching, ching..." when referring to the loss of money and funds simply dropping away from us.
The trouble with idioms is that one tends to have a loose tongue when they become a part of one's vocabulary. With the exception of one or two, my Spouse works in close proximity with people possessed of all of the above names, including the very one that sounds like loose change.
It was a slow realisation but Spouse must absolutely ensure discretion from now on. Should he halt, mortified, in the middle of a sentence about Tom, Dick and Harry, he might yet turn and put his foot in it once again with another fellow and appear to accuse him of robbing another's money or seem to suggest genealogical knowledge of another colleague's background. One wonders if one ought to ever say anything at all. English is delightful but it is paved with treacherous stones that one can easily stumble over before one can say 'Jack Robinson.'

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