Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Daily Record’

Water Under The Bridge

Posted by Admin on July 24, 2013

Whenever you hear someone say it’s all water under the bridge, it’s just another way of saying that a problem or unpleasant situation has been addressed, and is best left in the past. Yes, whatever the problem was, it’s considered by everyone to be forgiven and, quite possibly, forgotten as well. So whenever you hear those words, you can be at peace knowing that whatever event you’re agonizing over is no longer an issue for all parties involved.

Back on May 12, 2011, The Libertines frontman, Carl Barat was quoted in the Glasgow, Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper as saying that a band reunion wasn’t in the cards for fans of the band. It had everything to do with the bad blood between Pete Doherty and himself. In the interview, he added:

We are all in very different places. Right now is not the time for The Libertines. I thought the water under the bridge was under the bridge, bug may it’s not. It’s a very hard thing. Every time we talk, it just brings it back up.

The expression was used in Vadim Bytensky’s book “Journey From St. Petersburg” published in 2007 by AuthorHouse. The book told the story of how the author returned to Russia in the 1990s, and witnessed how everything had changed since he had last seen it in 1975. At one point in the author’s story, he has this to say on page 128:

He spoke Russian with a Japanese accent. I played around with Japanese like a child playing with bricks. It was a most absorbing occupation, although unfortunately it lasted for only one year. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and my knowledge of Japanese has also evaporated — after all, who in Toronto needs a non-Japanese to translate from that language?

An uncomfortable situation in American history had to do with Watergate, and when the Gettysburg Times newspaper published a story entitled, “President Grilled By Press On Watergate; Will Not Resign; Would Get On With Business” back on August 23, 1973, it was obvious how uncomfortable the situation was. The story indicated that whenever the matter of Watergate cropped up, Richard Nixon deflected with comments that steered reporters in the direction of who the new Secretary of State and other such things. The story began with this paragraph:

Declaring that Watergate is “water under the bridge,” and giving explanations that conceded no personal negligence, Richard Nixon responded Wednesday for the first time in five months to direct questions about the scandal that has shaken his presidency.

Back on September 21, 1931 the Editorial of the Day in the Tuscaloosa News had everything to do with the Long no-cotton plan that was dead, as forecast in the Montgomery Advertiser 10 days earlier. There had been a number of opponents to the plan from Governor Long of Louisiana, and many Texans saw the plan as an attempt to boss Texans around. The editorial stated in part:

Had the Long plan been good, Long would have killed it in Texas. But all of this water under the bridge. The fact is that the no-cotton law of Louisiana will not be adopted by the other States, notwithstanding that on yesterday the Senate of the South Carolina Legislature voted to enact it. It is plainly unthinkable that the other cotton States should adopt the Louisiana law now that Texas, the greatest producing State, has rejected it.

The idiom has the same meaning as the older version known as water over the dam.

In fact, the New York Times published an article about the Mexican situation (as it was referred to at the time) on December 20, 1919. The issue of the cost of maintaining a border patrol of regular and National Guard troops to protect the Us border (at a cost of $1,000,000,000 since in the years since Madero had started Mexico on the revolutionary road back in 1911) was foremost in people’s minds. Among those interviewed was James S. Black, editor of the El Paso Times, who was quoted in the news story as saying:

But that is all water over the dam. What has been done cannot be undone, but the Administration might profit by the mistakes of the past. Mexico and Mexicans will respect American and their property once they are convinced the United States means business.

A few dictionaries claim that the expression water over the dam is American slang from the 1840s, however, Idiomation was unable to find any proof to support the claim.

However, because the expression was used in a published news article in 1919, it was obviously a common expression that was as easily understood in El Paso as in New York, and back dating it a generation, this pegs the expression to at least 1890. It’s possible that it goes back two generations, which would place it to sometime in the 1860s. But without proof, it’s difficult to guess that it goes back yet another generation (although it may very well go back to the 1840s).

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Pardon My French

Posted by Admin on October 11, 2011

When someone asks you to pardon their French and they’re not speaking French, what they really mean is that they would like listeners to excuse their use of inappropriate, taboo or swear words.

For example, on September 11, 2009 the Daily Record of Glasgow, Scotland published an article by Grant Lauchlan entitled, “Cookery Kookery” which reviewed the movie “Julie and Julia.”  The lead off paragraph read:

Pardon my French but if you don’t know your poulet sauté aux herbes de Provence from your pissaladire, then you probably won’t have heard of Julia Child. She was America’s answer to Delia Smith and Fanny Craddock combined, a national treasure who wrote Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.

On August 24, 1987 the Milwaukee Journal ran a story written by Calvin Trillin for his column “Uncivil Liberties” entitled, “French Verbs? You Can Get Along Beautifully  Without ‘Em.”

My two years of high school French seemed to consist mainly of looking through the Kansas City Star for articles mentioning France, cutting them out and gluing them into a scrapbook — an experience that left me with few verbs but a nearly tournament-level skill in gluing.  We didn’t have any Francophones in our family — although anytime my Uncle Oscar used words that caused my mother to say, “Oscar! The children!” he followed them quickly with “Pardon my French.” 

Maybe the Milwaukee Journal was more partial to running stories with pardon my French in it than other newspapers.  In the July 22, 1939 edition carried the column written by Louella O. Parsons, Motion Picture Editor for the International News Service. Among the tidbits of news was this:

The exhibitors from Maine to California who have been raising heck (pardon my French) with MGM because Greer Garson hasn’t started a picture since her success in “Mr. Chips” will be glad to know that she faces the camera on Monday, with Robert Taylor as her co-star and Lew Ayres importantly featured.  The paying customers will see the captivating lady with the red hair in “Remember” authored and directed by Normal McLeod, with Milton Bren producing.

Back on August 2, 1908 the New York Times ran a story entitled, “Cock Of The Walk” that used a variation of the expression pardon my French.  In the story, the following exchange happens between Bridget the cook and the master of the house.

“I haven’t accused you of anything of the sort.  All I want to know is what became of that bottle, Bridget!”

“Then Oi’ll tell ye about that bottle, and then, mind ye, Oi’ll leave.  Last night Oi had company in the kitchen.  ‘Twas the cook and another iv the serants from the Van Bullion house across the street.  Oi had been telling them how much leeway Oi had in this house, even to being considered as one above the pale iv servants in any mansion, not excludin’ the White House.  There was a sneer on the face iv the Van Bullion cook, Sir, that Oi was tempted to efface wid a smash iv me fist; but, as is becoming a cook iv yours, Sir, Oi held my dignity and resolved to rub it in.  Excuse my French, Sir!”

However, the expression seems to have first appeared in the March 1895 edition of Harper’s Magazine in a story by Francis Hopkinson Smith entitled, “A Waterlogged Town.”  The story read in part:

“Do not the palaces interest you?” I asked inquiringly, in my effort to broaden his views.

“Palaces be durned!  Excuse my French.  Palaces!  A lot of cave-in old rookeries; with everybody living on the second floor because the first one’s so damp ye’d get your die-and-never-get-over-it if you’d lived in the basement, and the top floors so leaky that you go to bed under an umbrella; and they all braced up with iron clamps to keep ’em from falling into the canal, and not a square inch on any one of ’em clean enough to dry a shirt on!  What kind of holes are they for decent — Now see here, “haying his hand confidingly on my shoulder, “just answer me one question — you seem like a level-headed young man, and ought to give it to me straight.  Been here all summer, ain’t you?”

Now even though Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of the expression, that it would be used so easily in Harper’s Magazine in 1895 suggests that it was a common expression for the era and as such it is not unreasonable to place it at a generation or more prior to this, dating it to least 1875.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cut Above

Posted by Admin on September 13, 2011

If something is a cut above, it is said to be better than other similar things.  Likewise, if someone is a cut above, it means that person demonstrates better qualities than most other people on average.

On February 8, 1995 the Daily Record newspaper of Glasgow, Scotland commented on two movies in the column “Cinema: Reel Lives.”  The first movie was the Zorro remake and the newspaper had this to say about it:

Mexico’s most famous swordsman is about to cut another dash on the big screen.  And this time round the great Zorro will be played by Latin hunk Antonio Banderas.  The movie also features the talents of Oscar winning Steven Spielberg and director Robert Rodriguez.  Rodriguez worked with Banderas on the excellent Desperado and assured me that his Zorro will be a cut above the rest.

Back on November 23, 1945 the Spokesman Review newspaper ran an interesting article entitled, “1000 Times More Than Ever.”  The first tidbit had to do with the first Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving — decreed by Governor Bradford in 1623 — celebrated the survival of a minority.  Unknowingly, it also marked the birth of a nation made up of minorities — the Puritans of Massachusetts, the burghers of New York, the cavaliers of Virgina, the Indians of a vast frontier.  None, mark you, liked another.  With a trait common to minorities, each felt itself a cut above the rest.  Yet the history of three centuries shows that when these minorities did get together and founded the greatest, freest, happiest nation of all time, the old animosities somehow vanished.

The New York Times ran a story on March 1, 1905 entitled, “Count On The Bowery; $30,000 To Prove It.”  It told the story of Louis Heder, a pharmacist on Avenue B, who was identified as the heir to $30,000 in “hard cash” and the title of Count of the Empire of Austria as well as a direct descendant of the ruling Hohenzollern family of Germany.

None of the Boweryites knew how it came about, but nevertheless they were all satisfied that Louis, who had always seemed a cut above the ordinary crowd, was now Count Louis Heder-Hohenzollern of the Bowery and of Budapest.

On November 3, 1883 the Otago Witness reported on the horse races in the region.  One race in particular — the Metropolitan Handicap — was of particular interest as one horse who had done well in previous races was going up against horses of a different calibre.

Tim Whiffler I have no fancy for; he has performed well in the North Island, but will, I think, find the present company a cut above him.  Envious is put about as a good thing, but if she can land the stake all I shall say is that she must have changed her nature since last season.

A dozen years earlier, on September 4, 1875 the article, “Randwick Anticipations” appeared in the Sydney Mail newspaper in Australia.  As with the previous article mentioned, it dealt with horse races and the various horses to be seen.  It read in part:

Last season Hyperiod proved himself a cut above all comers; but he has not wintered well, and the vice-regal stable will have to intrust its honour to Valentia, and I can well imagine the shouts that will rend the air should “The Viscount” succeed in carrying the spots to the front at the end of such a terrible struggle as this will be.

The idiom uses the word cut in the sense of “a higher degree or stage” which dates back to the early 1800s.  That particular expression is found in numerous newspaper articles in the first half of the 1800s such as in the article published in the Public Ledger of St. John’s, Newfoundland of April 12, 1831 with regards to the reform measures suggested in the House of Commons in London, England.  The very extensive news article was a continuation of a previously published article and reported everything in exact detail.  At one point, the following is found:

The Hon. and Learned Member had ridiculed the whole of the middle classes.  He (Lord Althorp) would tell the Hon. Member he did not know the intelligence of the middle classes when he talked as he had done.  That they did possess a higher degree of character and intelligence than at any former period, was abundantly proved, and he was satisfied they were as well qualified to select, and would select as wisely and as prudently as any other class, representatives distinguished for their honesty, their integrity, and their ability.  He confessed he was one of those theorists who thought that the House of Commons should represent the opinions of the people.  The Constitution supposed that the Members of the House of Commons were the real representatives of the people.  The Hon. and Learned Gentleman seemed to think that this measure would give satisfaction to none but a very small portion — to none but a very small class of this country.

Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of “cut above” and because it was used with ease in the Sydney Mail in 1875, allowing for the time it would take for a new expression to catch on to the point of being included in a news article, Idiomation agrees that the expression is from the early 1800s.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cyberchondria

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2010

Hypochondria, as we all know, is the conviction that one has — or is likely to have — a specific diagnosis, often accompanied by physical symptoms, when the diagnosis is neither present nor likely. 

With the plethora of medical information available via the Internet, there’s been an explosion of armchair medical diagnosticians have cropped up in greater and greater numbers as they research various medical conditions on the Internet.  Cyberchondriacs believe they have specific conditions because perceived symptoms match at least one check list found on a Web page.

The following passage was published in The Observer in March 2001:

There was a time when the internet fed and fuelled her health concerns — and she has featured in a number of articles about “cyberchondria”, which occurs when an individual surfs the net in a frenzy of health anxiety.

Two months later in May 2001, the Daily Record reported:

Hypochondria, the excessive fear of illness, has now been overtaken by cyberchondria — the same fear made much worse, fuelled by volumes of easily-accessible material available on the Internet.

Licensed and accredited medical practitioners discourage armchair medical diagnosing on the basis that it is prone to error as in the case of the number of self-diagnosed individuals claiming to have ADHD and Asperger Syndrome.

Posted in Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »